QAA Articles

Are we Coaching, or Mentoring?

Updated: May 17, 2020

This is an area of confusion noticeable in institution publications, websites and even job advertisements, for example: ‘Coaching skills required’, usually seems to refer to mentoring roles.

It's quite simple, professionally qualified coaches helps clients to keep the focus on their plans, ideas, and goals, acting more as counsellors than mentors.

A mentor may act as a role-model for their mentee, training, directing and helping to develop specific skills.

Coaches do not need to be subject matter experts, but mentors invariable do.

The process of coaching starts out on the premise that the client has a stated goal to achieve.

The coach’s role is to help that person take steps towards the achievement of the goal.

Upon that journey there is a good possibility that the goalposts might move a little, that the goal might change along the way; so the coach needs to be flexible and particularly empathetic and aware of the client's frame of mind during each meeting session.

The coach should not suggest direction, or lead the way, but using coaching techniques and appropriate questioning the coach should enable the client to realise that they themselves have the answers and can find their own way to their goal destination.

Mentoring is ‘showing the way’, and leading the mentee (or student) down the right path to achieve the training or development outcome that is required. This is why the mentor will probably need to be experienced with the topic in hand, and would likely be a recognised professional in the same domain.

The Dean's role will likely be required to mentor staff, to offer their deeper experience and suggestions.

Logically, a good teacher is mentoring their students, guiding them through methods to successful assignments and ultimately, the program’s stated learning outcomes.

You might see how on occasions, mentoring skills are asked of a coach, but in order to qualify as a professional coach (such as with the International Coach Federation, ICF) we need to comply with a set of over seventy ethical guidelines: compliance = adhering to ethical statements.

To qualify, we need to prove that we can coach for over 100 hours without verging into mentoring, directing or leading the client. Proving that we, as coaches, have mastered the questioning technique and are fully aware of the client’s empathetic needs, and where they may be on their emotive continuum during any given session - we are simply coaching them to reach their desired goal themselves.