Coaching vs. Mentoring: What is the Difference?

A question often asked by the community is the difference between coaching and mentoring. And what do these both separately achieve? While these practices require similar skills to execute and are an impeccable part of professional development, they lead to different outcomes and follow a unique structure. 

We have compiled this rich article that will accessorize you with the knowledge and help you differentiate between the two to give you all the answers. So let’s dive straight into the details.

To understand the difference on a deeper level, let’s start with discussing coaching and mentoring individually. Take a look:

What is a Mentor and What does a Mentor Do?

A mentor shares personal knowledge and experience with a mentee to support their personal and career development. Like coaching, it is a development-focused endeavor, but mentors’ primary goal is to transfer their knowledge and experience to mentees for the purpose of mentees’ long-term growth.

Mentors usually work within the same company as the mentees and help them navigate through the mess of corporate life to identify life standout events and make decisions consistently. 

What is a Coach and What does a Coach Do?

A coach has a license in a specialized field and can help other professionals grow their business or fulfill their goals. The primary focus of coaches is to accessorize untrained professionals with the necessary skills to reach their full potential.

Companies usually work with coaches to train their employees through a structured format and rigorous training procedure. Some coaches also work independently at an online or physical academy. Regardless, the goal remains the same: guide the clients to reveal their top talent.

Primary Differences between Coaching and Mentoring:

Now that we’re clear what each practice means and what they do, let’s discuss the primary differences between the two:

1. Short vs. Long-Term Focus

Both coaching and mentoring engagements can be short or long term but mentoring is typically a long-term commitment where the mentee benefits from the mentor’s experience for an extended period. Coaching is often a short-term practice as short as a few minutes. 

2. Specific Needs vs. General Needs

A mentoring relationship is based on more generalized knowledge and guidance. Mentoring focuses on direct communication with the mentee, solid grounds for making better long-term plans and decisions. On the other hand, a relationship between a coach and an employee is based on a specific goal or required skill. Coaching has a non-directive approach, focusing mainly on particular concepts/skills instead of the trainee itself.

3. Hands-on Experience

Mentors have deep insights and first-hand experience of operating within a business effectively and utilize this experience to empower and train the mentee. However, coaches do not have such experience and instead have a specialization in a particular subject.

4. Present vs. Future

A coach tries to solve current problems and coaching revolves around the encouragement of individuals to effectively perform their daily tasks (present-focused). On the other hand, a mentor guides the mentees and enables them to develop crucial skills that will not only help them at present but also aid to achieve their future goals (future-driven).

5. Skills and Training

Generally, coaching requires special training that allows an individual to be eligible but there is no need to have specific qualifications and formal training to become a mentor. Mentors’ main focus is passing on specific skills and expertise to another person so they can develop their personalities, achieve their present and future goals and boost their careers. 

6. Conversational Viewpoint

Coaches give the training to help the individual come up with their own solution and find their way instead of offering their own or perspective advice. Mentors are focused on helping an individual find their own solution as well but they can become more direct when needed.


Coaching and mentoring are both invaluable practices for any organization that can ensure employees working both on-site and remotely stay connected, increase engagement and productivity. 

Investing in coaching, mentoring, or combined programs results in a win-win situation in the future, in terms of both employees and companies. Now, it is time to decide which one would suit your business operations or if you need both.