Although on the surface mentoring and coaching may seem similar, there are actually a number of important differences. In this post we have outlined some of the most essential ones:
The most essential difference between mentoring and coaching is focus. In mentoring, the end goal revolves around improving an individual, while in coaching the desire is to work on increasing performance. A coach is best if you are looking to develop a certain skill quickly, while a mentor would be a better choice if long term general improvement is your primary objective.
Mentoring typically lasts much longer than coaching. Additionally, mentoring relationships are reciprocal in nature: the mentee and mentor are encouraged to learn from each other. In comparison, with coaching, the "coachee" is the primary target of learning and coaching typically doesn't last as long.
A key to mentoring is the relationship that develops between mentor and mentee. Before the mentoring relationship even begins, mentors and mentees are often intentionally paired together based on similarity. As a result of this, as well as the longer duration of mentoring, mentoring relationships are typically much closer than coaching relationships.