Coaching vs Mentoring: What's the difference? - Steps to mentoring- VMAGROUP

Coaching vs Mentoring: What’s the Difference?

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Coaching vs Mentoring: What’s the Difference?

Coaching and mentoring are both professional development tools used to support and benefit an employee. This not only leads to better outcome for the employee being mentored or coached, but also for the organisation that they work in. Coaching and mentoring are both vital development tools for communications and marketing professionals at all stages in their careers. Despite being used interchangeably, both have different processes and objectives.

What are the key differences?





Not required


Fixed time frame



Structured sessions using theory

Share and draw on personal experiences

End Goal:

Improve performance


Qualifications: Coaches often have a coaching qualification to hand and have been trained to provide specific developmental support. Mentoring, however, does not require training. A mentor is someone with more marketing or communications experience than you in your sector or industry, who is able to depart their learnings.

Time: Coaching has a fixed time frame, whereas a mentoring program can run from a month to several years. This is because coaching has structured sessions in place to actively work on several points of development. These points have been pre-determined by both the coach and the one being coached. Mentoring is relationship based, and like all relationships, this takes time to build. The longer the mentoring relationship, the better it can be. 

Process: Although a coach may be certified in communications, digital or marketing, they will not necessarily talk about personal experiences. Some may draw on knowledge gained from personal experiences, but coaches will use marketing or communications theory and knowledge in their discussions. Mentors, however, will draw from specific personal experiences that may have happened in their career and share the outcomes and learnings. This is beneficial as a mentee who shares the same industry background as their mentor will be able to find solutions to industry-specific problems much more easily.

End goal: Coaching is a tool used to improve the performance of employees and by effect, improve the overall work quality within an organisation. However, mentoring is focused on self-development, working more on soft skills to improve overall employment skills that go beyond the current job. In short, coaching is more about the job itself, and mentoring is focused directly on the person. However, both can lead to the same point – if you excel in your job, your personal development goals may be achieved and vice versa.

What are the benefits of coaching and mentoring?

So what is the impact of coaching at work? One study found that employees who received coaching led to greater levels of self-efficacy in comparison to employees who did not receive coaching. This increase in confidence can provide further benefits and improvement in communication, job-satisfaction, performance, ownership, succession planning and career planning. According to a report from the International Coach Federation, 70% of those who received coaching had improved performance at work. 86% of companies reported that they recovered their investment and more.

Mentoring is found to have similar benefits, including improved recruitment and induction, better staff planning and strengthened networks. In fact, employees who received mentoring were five times more likely to be promoted than non-mentored peers.

The benefits are undeniable, and the long-term advantages are why we now offer mentoring and coaching as part of our communications and marketing recruitment service. Through VMA GROUP In Partnership, new team members have access to free coaching and a specialist communications and marketing mentoring programme. Hiring managers also receive a free coaching session from a qualified executive coach with experience in communications, digital or marketing. Find more about the service here.

While both require different relationships and have different outcomes, one thing remains the same: both enable communications and marketing professionals to be the best version of themselves.