Coaching vs Mentoring

Information origin

These notes are the result of a 6-months volunteer Μentoring experience and a 2-days Coaching course attendance in 2018 by the editor, Maria Dimou. Thanks are due to:

  • Gerry Letea and Monique Tritten, senior consultants and trainers for the Coaching part.
  • Olivia Och, Project Manager, University of Geneva Equal Opportunities Office for background Mentoring information.

NB! Coach, Mentor, Manager, Leader, Advisor, Counsellor, Therapist are all different roles!

The Coach

  • aims at helping the coachee to become aware of a situation and to take responsibility for doing something about it, i.e. becoming autonomous.
  • asks open questions. Probing and Relay questions are fine because they encourage the coachee to clarify the situation. Closed or Leading questions are forbidden because they introduce new concepts and hide an opinion/recommendation by the coach.
  • gives NO advice, NO judgement, NO personal opinion.
  • does Global listening, i.e. stops his/her internal dialog and fully concentrates on the coachee's words, expressions, feelings and body language.
  • shows and verbally expressed empathy for the coachee's situation by paraphrasing the coachee's words on the emotional level.
  • helps the coachee to define the Goal of the session, the Reality s/he perceives, the Options s/he sees possible, her/his Will to take Action and the degree of her/his Commitment to the Action Plan. All these steps (the acronym is GROW, established by coach J.Whitmore) must be pronounced by the coachee.
  • sometimes falls back into a Mentor's role, if this is more efficient for the issue or the person.
  • speaks 20% of the time in a coaching session. The 80% is done by the coachee.
  • keeps the flow and GROW structure of the discussion.
  • paraphrases to show listening, empathy, understanding.
  • asks the coachee to formulate the Goal and to list the Options.
  • encourages more than one Option, as a unique option is like an Obligation.

The importance to select words carefully

  • "I understand" or "I think" can be dangerous... They come from the brain, not from a position of empathy. The coach understanding the Issue doesn't mean [s]he also understands the coachee's Goal.
  • "I observe" or "I hear" are ok for the coach, as his/her personality, values and ideas don't get in the play.
  • "What success have you had?" enables the coach to unblock the coachee from the rumination related to Reality.
  • "Why...?" should not be used because it may generate guilt and it may anchor the coachee to the past.
  • "What...?" and "How...?" are best ways to ask open questions.
  • The best questions are Follow-up questions, e.g. "what dp you need to prepare?", "do you have a Plan B?"... because they show the coach is _listening!

In brief: Coaching is helping people without telling them what to do. A coaching session is about the coachee as a person and not about the coach as an expert.

The Mentor

  • is an expert in a given field.
  • knows the Organisation well.
  • listens to the mentee to understand what really matters for her/him.
  • asks open questions to the mentee. "Why..." questions are fine in Mentoring, because the mentor is the person who knows.
  • shows things through a differnent angle.
  • establishes agreement with the mentee on mutual expectations, given that the mentor has NO formal responsibility for the mentee.
  • shares experience, guides, orients, suggests, advises the mentee.

In brief: A mentoring session is about the mentee for whom the Mentor is a role model.

Some links

-- MariaDimou - 2018-02-22

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Topic revision: r10 - 2022-02-15 - MariaDimou
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