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Coaching or Mentoring – does it matter?

If you are a follower of the Coaching Hub you will know we refer to coaching and mentoring interchangeably. I wish to discuss this further and acknowledge any differences for the purists amongst us.

‘Coaching and mentoring are contested and confused terms that embrace multiple and diverse practices…the terms ‘coaching’ and ‘mentoring’ cause much confusion – some people use them interchangeably and others clearly differentiate them’ (Western, 2012, p. 41).

This is Western’s opinion plus there are differing definitions of coaching and mentoring which can be considered slippery concepts (Daloz, 1986; Garvey, Stokes and Megginson, 2014). Both activities are supportive, developmental, learning relationships whereby one person helps another (or a team) to achieve personal (or team) outcomes and realise their potential. This is the reason we at the Coaching Hub use both terms as inclusive to all support providers, regardless of title. Appropriate support is at the heart of what we do, no matter what we call it.

Typically, coaching tends to be orientated towards task performance within short-term relationships while mentoring is focused upon career orientation and longer-term relationships. While this distinction is not always the case; various labels are associated to specific interventions such as career or life coaching and executive mentoring. Many professional coaches and mentors truly appreciate the nuance of these interventions and will often switch between coach-mode to mentor-mode as deemed appropriate for the client and as a means of identifying and unravelling exactly what support works best in which scenario.

Regardless of the type of intervention employed; we will apply a capture model as illustrative of the work we do:

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