What does mentoring mean?

Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their learning, maximise their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance, and become the person they want to be.

What are the three types of mentoring?

  • Traditional One-on-one Mentoring. A mentee and mentor are matched, either through a program or on their own. …
  • Distance Mentoring. A mentoring relationship in which the two parties (or group) are in different locations. …
  • Group Mentoring. A single mentor is matched with a cohort of mentees. 

What is the purpose of mentoring?

The purpose of a mentor is to help you grow as a person and become the best version of yourself. This may involve helping you achieve your personal or career goals, introducing you to new ways of thinking, challenging your limiting assumptions, sharing valuable life lessons, etc.

The differences between mentoring and coaching

Below are a few of the key differences between mentoring and coaching. We’ll start with the key differences in mentoring:

  • Mentoring is often longer-term, with some mentoring relationships lasting 6+ months. In several cases, mentoring can last years or even decades. Some famous mentors and mentees cite lifelong mentoring relationships.
  • No qualifications are required for mentoring, so it is easy for organisations to start mentoring programmes quickly. Mentoring training is often recommended, but it isn’t needed. There are significantly few mentoring qualifications offered compared with coaching qualifications.
  • As mentioned, mentoring is a lot more directive. It is about the mentor sharing their knowledge, experience and skills, telling the mentee and guiding them through direction.
  • Typically, mentoring is less structured than coaching. While having a mentoring meeting agenda and goals is recommended, it will be up to the mentee to put this together, compared with coaching, which typically follows a more rigid structure.
  • Finally, mentoring is mainly development driven and looks to the mentee to decide what they wish to achieve and which goals they have for their mentoring relationships.

Now, the critical differences in coaching are:

  • Coaching is often shorter-term and may be as short as a quick 10- or 15-minute conversation. That said, some coaching relationships can be longer-term too.
  • There is coaching skills training, and many coaching qualifications are available, and almost always necessary and certainly recommended to be a genuinely effective coach.
  • Unlike mentoring, coaching is non-directive. Instead, it is about posing the right questions and providing the space, trust, and confidence for the coached individual. As a result, they learn how to achieve more, reach their objectives and find capabilities within themselves.
  • Typically, coaching is structured by line managers or sponsors, so organisations will often sponsor an individual, or a line manager will send an employee to be coached for specific skills.
  • Coaching is performance-driven and encourages the individual or individuals being coached to perform in their day-to-day roles.

As you can see, there are lots of key differences. In addition, there are many skills required and recommended for both coaching and mentoring, which we will explore now.

The skills required for mentoring

While qualifications aren’t required for mentoring, there are many skills recommended for someone to be an effective mentor. Here are just some of them:

  • A keen interest in helping others is a given, but we hope you’ll have that – it’s a pivotal place to start when mentoring people.
  • First-hand experience, knowledge, and insights in the area you’re providing mentoring – because mentoring should be built on solid and concrete advice and guidance.
  • Relationship building and interpersonal skills are crucial for mentoring – they’re also vital to coaching.
  • While not potentially considered a “skill”, the dedicated long-term time commitment is essential. If you start a mentoring journey with someone, it’s vital to see it through.
  • Motivating, encouraging, and inspiring energy throughout all mentoring meetings.
  • Helping to identify the mentee’s goals is crucial. This can take some self-reflection from the mentor to help the mentee work out where their goals should be.

The skills required for coaching

  • A relationship of equals where the coach and coachee have mutual understanding and respect is critical.
  • The ability to maximise resources and inspire is similar to that of mentoring.
  • The ability to recognise strengths and challenge the individual being coached to propel them forward.
  • The skill to tackle problems head-on and not dwell, or allow the coachee, to dwell on them.
  • Ability to raise awareness and responsibility with the individual being coached and throughout an overall office and organisational environmental level.
  • The skill to make it real means finding the right balance of interpersonal skills and the practical skills to convert discussions into actions.

These are just a few crucial mentoring and coaching skills. Influential mentors frequently also make effective coaches.

The key benefits of mentoring and coaching

Both mentoring and coaching have a range of benefits. When conducted correctly can benefit both the individual receiving mentoring and coaching and the mentor or coach and the organisation. Here are some benefits of mentoring and coaching:

  • Both mentoring and coaching are highly effective learning techniques.
  • Both mentoring and coaching can be formal and informal. However, mentoring is often perceived as informal, whereas coaching is often perceived as formal.
  • Both can increase employee engagement and retention when applied.
  • Mentoring and coaching are easy to implement into any organisation or business structure. As a result, we’re increasingly seeing organisations running both.
  • Both mentoring and coaching can increase the confidence and the interpersonal skills of the person providing the mentoring or coaching and the person receiving it.
  • And finally, both can dramatically improve individual performance.

An effective EFL/ESL teacher can be a mentor, a coach or both to their ELLs (English language learners). It is always good to get the best training to do a good job. This goes beyond language learning and teaching. This cuts through every professional’s work. You have to be well trained to know and be confident that you are teaching EFL or ESL correctly and effectively. No ifs and buts around it. English being your L1 doesn’t cut it. You speak, read, and understand the language, but do you know how to teach it?

Here is a sample question we ask our Trinity CertTESOL applicants. It’s more to show them that getting the proper TEFL training is crucial if you want to teach with confidence. Here goes: We asked them a question about two sentences. Both sentences were correct, but there was a difference. What is the difference? Sentence 1: I used to live in San Francisco. Sentence 2) I lived in San Francisco. In our experience, many applicants couldn’t point out the difference. The applicants we questioned had English as their L1. The exercise showed them that although their L1 was English, they still needed to train to become EFL/ESL teachers. Honestly, if you want to teach English with confidence, getting yourself TEFL/TESOL trained is the only way.

Watch a trainer in action to see how he teaches grammar to intermediate level English language learners.