Understanding the Difference Between Coaching, Counselling and Mentoring

Understanding the Difference Between Coaching Counselling and Mentoring

Date: On Demand (access any time)
Investment: $285 per person
(Discounts for multiple participants)

INCLUDES: One-on-One Telephone Coaching

As a manager you may have been told that your role involves coaching, counselling and mentoring. Many people think that these three are the same thing and can be usedinterchangeably but in reality coaching, counselling and mentoring are three very different skills and are used to achieve three separate outcomes.

Being a manager is much more challenging that people think, you need to focus on getting business results, you also need to be a champion for your team, a shoulder to cry on, and even someone who disciplines the team when needed. Learning to juggle and be effective at all these roles is not easy.

The purpose of coaching, counselling and mentoring is to enable you to help your employees maximise their contribution at work.

As a leader it is important for you to understand the definition of each of these terms and how they differ from one another. Since each of these techniques bring about different results, you may also find it useful to understand when and why to counsel, when and why to coach and when and why to mentor someone in your team.

Tips to Communicate Better

Over the next two pages we will talk about how to assess your communication skills as a manager, what to keep in mind when communicating, how to listen actively. We will also cover ways to write effective emails and the 7 C’s of Effective Communication.

1. What is mentoring?

Mentoring can be defined as a “voluntary relationship that exists between a person of lesser experience and a person of greater experience that is based on mutual trust and respect.” The purpose of mentoring is normally to groom high potential employees for bigger roles, or to share experience with employees in new roles or who are new to the company. Mentoring is about sharing information, experience and giving and receiving advice and guidance. It is not linked to performance objectives and is not done with the intent to impact the mentee’s performance.

2. When and why to mentor someone?

It is unlikely that you will mentor each person in your team. If your organisation has a formal mentoring program, you may chose to have your high potential employees paired with mentors whose footsteps they wish to follow in. You may choose to mentor employees who are not part of your team but who may wish to learn something from you. You may mentor a fellow manager who is new to the organisation or to the role. Mentoring is normally done with the intent of developing someone and sharing knowledge to enable a person to handle their current or future role better. The intent of mentoring is not to impact a person’s performance, it is to have a positive impact on the person’s professional life as a result of this relationship.

3. What is coaching?

A mentor is normally someone with more experience than the mentee, a coach does not need to be more experienced necessarily. As a coach your role is to use questions and feedback to facilitate a team member’s learning and thought process.

While mentoring is not normally done by the person’s manager, coaching will fall on your shoulders as part of your responsibilities towards your team.

Coaching is a conversation that helps a person to learn more and to facilitate theirperformance at work.

Unlike mentoring the aim of coaching is to impact performance.

4. When and why to coach?

If you compare a team at work to a sport’s team, then the question of when to coach becomes pretty easy—you need to coach a lot of the time.

Coaching is about helping your employees:

  • Identify their goals
  • Identify ways to achieve them
  • Identify what is working for them and what they need to improve.
  • Identify a plan of action

You need to coach when you want to improve an employees performance, set quarterly or yearly performance goals and when you want to change an employees behaviour for the better.

5. What is counselling?

Though mentoring, coaching and counselling are all one to one activities, the tone and purpose of counselling is very different from that of mentoring and coaching.

While coaching is about increasing an employees performance, and focuses on tasks, counselling is about an employees behaviour.

The employees behaviour may directly impact his performance, but it may also impact the performance or morale of the team as a whole. Counselling is done when the employees behaviour or who he is being at work, is affecting the performance of the team.

6. When and why to counsel?

Remember also that coaching can begin with a goal, however counselling always begins with a problem or issue that needs to be addressed. Counselling is normally used by people who are having issues that affect their work, these issues could be either personal or professional. Coaching on the other hand is something you will do for employees who are both high and low performers.

As a manager you need to counsel an employee when you see that:

  • His behaviour is causing the team discomfort
  • His behaviour is affecting his output
  • His behaviour is affecting the team’s output

Remember that out of the three things counselling is perhaps the most difficult as it involves getting to the root cause of a person’s behaviour and then getting them to change it.