There is a big confusion about what is mentoring and what is coaching. Most people think professional coaching and mentoring are the same thing, or at least similar. Yet there are differences between them. The biggest difference is this:
The coach does not have to be an expert in the subject in which they are coaching. As a matter of fact, they do not even need to have experience in the subject. However, a mentor must be experienced in the subject in which they are mentoring; they must have knowledge of and expertise in the subject.
Mentoring is usually a type of a transitory relationship with an unspecified conclusion.
In mentoring, frequency of the meetings can be informal. The meetings may as well be spontaneous as planned, the mentee can contact the mentor when needed.
More long-term. While it is employed in companies for the purposes of career development, knowledge, and experience transfer; in informal forms of mentoring, the mentor may approach the individual’s development in a more extensive manner.
The mentor needs to be more experienced and qualified than the mentee. Generally, individuals whose knowledge and experience transfer is seen as valuable come together with less experienced individuals in order to contribute to their growth.
In mentorship relationship, the mentor can give advice to the mentee. The mentor also teaches the mentee about the subject matter of the developmental need.
In order to be called as a “Professional Coach”, the coach needs to complete an ICF (International Coach Federation) certified professional training program.
In Professional Coaching, the time period and number of meetings are specified from the beginning. The number of sessions usually start with 6 sessions and go up to 12 sessions. The frequency of the meetings is much more structured. There are regular intervals between the meetings such as a week, two weeks or once a month.
Professional Coaching relationship requires that the coach is able to manage the client’s progress and accountability. That is why the relationship has a certain period defined in the beginning of the relationship with specific focus on clear development goals.
It is not necessary for the coach to be a subject matter expert; this is a matter of preference.
In professional coaching relationship, the coach helps the coachee to obtain awareness and stretch themselves in order to maximize their potential. In order to provide that, the coach knows how to listen and ask powerful questions.