difference between coaching, mentoring and feedback

The Benefits of Mentoring, Feedback, and Coaching in the Workplace

Coaching, mentoring, and feedback in the workplace all share the same goal – to help develop an employee’s skills and performance. However, they have different benefits, focuses, methods, and motivations. When discussing ways to improve workplace culture and enhance the productivity of employees, the benefits of mentoring, coaching and feedback are well-known, and these terms are often misused. To effectively support employee growth in an organization, it is important to understand what these concepts mean, how they can best be utilized, and why they matter.

Coaching in the Workplace

Coaching is a term often used when discussing sports, so it helps to keep that connotation in mind. In coaching, the ultimate goal is for the one being coached (coachee) to achieve self-actualization. The coachee leads the interaction, learning, and practicing in real-time while the coach asks the right questions. These questions often ask, “what are your goals, and what are you struggling with pursuing these goals?” The coach encourages and inspires the coachee, establishing clear goals, and instilling a sense of accountability.

Like in baseball or hockey, mistakes are not failures, but are part of the process and are essential to learning. The coach fosters the coachee’s development by prompting reflection, making coachees aware that their opinions and knowledge have value. The motivation is internal and requires careful examination and thoughtful action on the part of the coachee.

Mentoring in the Workplace

In mentoring, experts use their knowledge and experience to develop a relationship with a less experienced individual (mentee) who desires to learn the skills of the expert, often intending to follow in the same career path. The mentor leads the interaction by sharing how they experienced mastery of a specific skill, often with “here is how I have handled this situation…” Mentors often serve as role models, providing guidance, knowledge, and perspective in an attempt to challenge and develop the mentee.

For a mentoring relationship to work, mutual respect and shared responsibility are paramount. Internal and external motivations are present and both parties gain something from the interactions.  The mentee receives benefits from the mentoring and the mentor finds a sense of fulfillment imparting valuable wisdom.

Understanding Feedback in the Workplace

Unlike coaching and mentoring, which are highly sought and appreciated, feedback is a performance management strategy that is not generally welcomed. The focus is not on growth but rather on expectations, where the supervisor leads from an external motivation for improvement. Feedback is not a conversation but instead a dialogue in which the supervisor tells employees they are failing to perform specific tasks correctly. This usually sounds something like, “I need to talk to you about how you handled that situation.” While coaching and mentoring focus on inquiry, personal development, preparation, and the goal of optimal performance in the future, feedback tends to focus on scrutiny, judgment, correction, and the goal of reinforcing proper behavior in the present.

Enhance Productivity and Increase Effectiveness

Now that you understand the benefits of coaching, mentoring, and feedback, you can best choose the technique appropriate to the specific needs of the individual and the organization. You can use these three performance management techniques to enhance productivity and boost morale while cultivating healthy, professional relationships built on encouragement. The experts at MindSpring Metro DC offer individual coaching for leaders looking for a personalized, one-on-one experience. Contact MindSpring to learn how coaching, mentoring and feedback can help increase effectiveness and communication on your team today!

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