Coach or Mentor- Which one do I need?


How many times as HR professionals have you been asked to look for a coach or mentor for a learning or performance issue?

You need to ask yourself what are the individual needs of each situation. Sometimes it is coaching that is needed – other times a mentor and often times neither.

Quick recap on the difference between a Coach and a Mentor

business coach






A Coach

  • Usually task orientated
  • Can be short term for a specific training need
  • Often performance driven
  • Immediate Manager is involved as a partner in the learning
  • Coaches ask powerful questions relating to the one issue or training area
  • Usually have an expertise or background in the specific area
  • They teach you

Business mentor






A Mentor

  • Relationship oriented
  • Usually a longer term relationship
  • Is development driven
  • Immediate Manager is indirectly involved
  • Provide direction and advice by being an “open door” for all questions
  • Are a sounding board with total confidentiality
  • You learn from hearing their experiences


Here are some tips on how to decide:
Have a look at the performance appraisal of the person - what is the nature of the learning need?

  1. Specific product knowledge – Software/IT based training
  2. A communication issue – can’t interact with the team or customers
  3. A leadership issue – staff not responding
  4. A strategic planning issue – no idea where to take the company, department next


Has the company introduced a new software system or program?

Does the company want to develop employees in specific competencies?

Do you have a few talented individuals who need ongoing leadership advice?

Do you have internal company experience/expertise you wish to retain and pass on to younger staff members?

Do you have staff members who need help with some of the more emotional intelligent areas in their development?

Learning and Devlopment

And as I said above sometime you need neither – often looking at other Learning and Development techniques may suit the situation.

Webinars, online learning tools, traditional training courses, exposure to other departments, putting staff on one-off projects are just some of the other methods you can use to fill a training need.

The size of your company and the amount of money you want to spend may also influence your training needs decision.

Another BIG question you need to ask yourself is – Will this training spend actually benefit the company?

I have seen many Business Owners and Managers fork out big sums of money on training that only benefits the individual and is not in the best interest of the company. So spend wisely.

If you have any other tips for helping our community of readers make L&D decisions drop us a note below. We welcome your thoughts and ideas.

by Emma Worseldine

Intepeople Locations

Brannigans Locations

Quick Links

Better people make a better world
Better people make a better world
chevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram