The rise of social media brought the potential to establish online communications and professional relationships. This instant connection is fantastic for many industries, ranging from retail to mental health. You’d likely find it impossible to scroll through your social feeds without noticing an ad or two for coaching and mentor services.
We’ve heard quite a bit on the coaching and mentor topics lately, especially on the heels of a global pandemic that sent everyone inside, deeply affected mental health, and led to many re-evaluating how they were living their lives. Coaches and mentors are available to us in various ways, helping us find our passions and organize our lives.
Of course, there are many places to find coaches and mentors other than a social media advert. Whether you choose a coach or mentor already in your life (such as a coach or a parent) or hire someone you don’t know, it’s important to distinguish between a mentor and a coach.
While we often use these phrases interchangeably, there is a substantial difference between a coach and mentor and these titles’ duties. Regardless of which path you select, coaches and mentors are beneficial resources.
However, understanding the responsibilities of each position will help you decide which one might be more beneficial regarding what you’re trying to accomplish. First, we’ll discuss how and why people choose to work with an external coach or mentor.
Why Does Someone Need an External Party for Membership and Coaching?
Instead of someone internal, most people decide to utilize an external party for their coaching or mentorship journeys. An inner coach or mentor could mean someone in your family if we discuss using these services for personal reasons. An internal coach or mentor would suggest someone within your organization from a corporate perspective.
Most people take the external route for many reasons. Many external coaches or mentors have typically completed an accredited program, giving them the right skillset and qualifying them to coach or mentor. When it comes to a business setting, external coaches are not affected by internal politics, so they tend to have the ability to offer sensitive feedback, creating an openness that leads to increased performance results.
Here are a few more advantages of external coaching.
The Skill and Experience of a Specialist
Other than a validated accreditation, an external coaching mentor or specialist has plenty of experience in the specifics of your case. Whether you want to advance in your career or make changes in your life, you can locate a coach or mentor with experience in targeting those exact changes.
A hired coach or mentor will have fewer distractions in personal and business situations. Acting as your coach is their responsibility, and because of this, the sessions you’ll have with them are much more effective. Focus is an essential quality in a mentor or coach, as you want to get as much out of your meetings as possible to create those positive changes.
Primarily in a corporate setting, hiring external coaches to work with yourself or your employees makes for a better experience overall. When a coach remains unaffected by company culture and politics, you’ll find that coaches (which may include you) are more comfortable sharing information and more willing to learn more openly.
A crucial part of coaching or mentoring is the ability to discuss sensitive or delicate topics. If you can’t talk about the difficulties you’re experiencing, it’s almost impossible to make strides in your sessions.
When companies hire coaches and mentors, it’s typically to help struggling employees deal with issues they’re experiencing in their professional and personal lives to improve their professional performance and enhance life satisfaction. As most of you know, it isn’t easy to keep life compartmentalized, and so often, the problems you’re having in your personal lives easily bleed over into your work life.
It’s not up to your coach or mentor to solve your problems; they can guide you and give you the tools to do it independently. Once those problem-solving mechanisms are set into place, work performances will begin to improve as people are more able to cope.
Utilizing an external coach offers the opportunity for people to see things from an outside perspective, which is essential to creating change. Internal coaching can be more cost-effective occasionally, but some intricacies go with internal coaching, such as knowing your coach too well personally or workplace politics.
What is the Difference Between a Coach and a Mentor?
Traditionally, companies assigned mentors to help new and old employees learn the ropes. In corporate business, advisors are mentors, whether the position is paid or not. Mentors are typically successful people who share the wisdom they’ve acquired regarding their current place in life.
Mentors often respond to issues as they arise in a reactive but beneficial way. Mentors may not specifically understand the mentee’s field of work, but they are familiar with business in general. For example, you could work in the finance industry and have a mentor from technology. The drive for business success is what we’re focused on with mentoring.
Coaches are different from mentors because they usually have experience in their coaching field. It’s typical for coaches to be trained and certified as coaches with specific expertise, possessing strong management skills.
CEOs or entrepreneurs bring coaches in to tackle specific challenges within the industry. Coaches are prescriptive, strategizing and participating in creating a positive outcome with their clients.
So, while mentors and coaches are both incredibly beneficial, they have stark differences in how they instruct and handle situational issues. While mentors are reactive, coaches are proactive.
The Benefits of Using a Coach
Coaching provides purpose, clarity, and passion in business environments, and those components tend to bleed over into personal lives. There are thousands of products available on the market that claim to change lives, and coaching might be one of the only ones to follow through on the promise.
Coaching creates introspection, encouraging people to look inside to figure out why a problem keeps occurring and how to rectify that problem. Self-awareness is a foundational skill for professional and personal development. Once self-awareness is accomplished, you can begin to look at different areas for potential growth.
With improved self-awareness comes a better stress tolerance, as you’re more aware of when stress is about to get the best of you. Resilience means turning unfavorable situations into successes, even if their minor, decreasing the chances of burnout.
Deeper self-awareness and the ability to find resilience result in better teamwork and improved collaborations. It’s common for those in a coaching program to benefit from increased confidence and reduced conflict in a group setting, making the partnership more effective.
We form self-efficacy by learning from another person’s experiences and someone you trust (in this case, a coach) affirming your own experiences. Self-efficacy is one of the building blocks of a good coaching program. Coaches co-create strategies to achieve goals and then celebrate the successes with their clients, building confidence.
One of the broadest aspects most people hope to take away from coaching is improving communication skills. Communicating effectively is crucial in the workplace and your daily life. Developing communication skills positively impacts stress, which we tend to aggravate by lacking or poor communication.
A Better Balance
An improved work-life balance is a fantastic byproduct of a good coaching program. In coaching, people learn to set priorities and control their lives, resulting in a better work-life balance. It’s common to achieve more satisfaction in work and life from this.
Improved Mental Health
Mental health tends to improve for those in a coaching program, as self-awareness, less stress, and better regulation of emotions come into play. Also, it’s safe to say that a decrease in stress typically increases mental wellness.
The Benefits of Using a Mentor
Mentors are just as valuable as coaches, though the two tend to work in slightly different scenarios. Mentees can gain much more from being mentored than advancement in their career, though this is a critical goal.
Self-confidence is everything when decreasing stress levels and decision-making, both at work and at home. The self-confidence you’ll gain from watching a mentor seamlessly handle problems that pop up in real-time can help you make better choices moving forward, increasing self-confidence and awareness.
Many people choose external mentors (though technically, an internal mentor can do this too) to help shine a new perspective on an old or recurring situation. If you don’t have access to the views of others, it’s near impossible to find new ones. Very often, a new perspective is all that’s needed to solve a languishing problem.
Goals are essential, not only to success but to feeling good about ourselves. Mentors assist their mentees in establishing workable, attainable goals that also encourage progress. A mentor and mentee can sit down and outline these goals together, or a mentee can witness the goals their mentor has set for themselves. Both scenarios are inspiring and beneficial.
In many cases, those in a mentor program can benefit significantly from knowing they’re supported. People become so used to making decisions and handling things independently, especially in the workplace, that a show of support can lead to massive changes and growing self-confidence. Many mentors offer support without even realizing it, just by being there to talk.
Learning from Experience
A good mentorship will encourage the mentee to learn from trial and error within their own experiences. However, a mentor will also give insight into their own experiences, which means mentees can learn a great deal from the experience of others. It’s often the experience of others that helps us make decisions based on our knowledge.
What to Look for When Choosing a Mentor or Coach
Choosing a mentor or coach can be a difficult task, primarily when you’re doing so in a corporate or business setting. There are specific qualities that you should look for in each profession, with some that blend due to the similarities of the job.
Picking a Mentor
To pick a mentor that will work for you in your business setting, you’ll want to look for the following:
- Sharing of values and a definition of success
- Someone who has achieved specific goals that in which you are aiming
- The ability and willingness to build new relationships
- Has the capacity to challenge you with a different perspective
Choosing a Coach
Deciding on a coach is not easy as it’s typical for coaching clients (you) to want someone with particular qualities. Here’s what you should look for in a coach, in general.
- Enthusiasm for goal setting and creating self-awareness
- Very observant in everyday situations, ensuring that they’ll be just as vigilant with their clients’ potential and needs
- A positive attitude is a meaningful aspect of any potential coach, but clients should be on the lookout for any over-the-top, toxic positivity
- Look for a coach that will be your support system in all aspects, as humans do not tend to separate their lives (and shouldn’t have to), so workplace coaches tend to slip into personal life coaching from time to time
Deciding Between a Coach or Mentor
When it comes to picking a coach or mentor, what you choose is an entirely personal decision, whether you’re making it for yourself or on behalf of a company. In both situations, you’ve got to ensure that the coach or mentor fits the job description and will set the goals necessary to help you and your employees with personal and professional growth.
Mentors and coaches differ regarding responsibilities and capabilities, so start with your requirements concerning the task at hand and go from there. Regardless of what you decide, everyone on your team is sure to benefit from the guidance and input of either a coach or mentor.
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