It is very important to be clear about the learning objective of the individual in order to choose the right approach. Coaching is a partnership that helps the individual work out what they need to do themselves to improve and, in the process, what motivates them and what gets in their way (attitudes, prejudices, preconceptions, assumptions). A coach, through a structured line of questioning and other adult learning techniques, subliminally encourages individuals to uncover answers by themselves. Mentors can be more ‘directive’ and provide specific advice where appropriate – a coach would not offer their own advice or opinion, but help the individual find their own solution.
A mentor helps mentees consider opportunities for career growth, gain confidence and improve interpersonal skills. The support is based on the mentor’s own experiences and learning, which makes them more reliable figures in the eyes of the mentees. Since they have faced the same challenges as their mentees, they are more empathetic towards their needs. To inspire and build trust and confidence, mentors possess a positive and can-do attitude. These qualities make it easier for the mentees to discuss their professional goals and concerns with them.