Know the Difference between Coaching, Mentoring and Counseling

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Everyone needs a helping hand, no matter what their profession is. Coaches, mentors, and counselors allow people to achieve the right mindset to perform better. Coaches, mentors, counselors, and their areas of expertise are often misunderstood. Their roles are commonly mixed up. For example, coaching is more performance-driven, while mentoring is development driven. Not understanding these nuances may lead to sub-optimal outcomes.

What is Coaching?      

Coaching is primarily related to performance improvement in a specific skill. In coaching, goals are set in consultation with the coach. However, during the process, the person being coached owns the goals, while the coach has complete ownership of the process. Coaching can be classified as:
  • Short term
  • Formal
  • Structured
  • Specific to a skill with defined, measurable outcomes
  • Performance-driven

What is Mentoring?

Mentoring refers to the identification and development of the true potential of a person. Typically, it is a long-term association wherein the goals may change but are set by the mentee. In mentoring, the mentee owns both the goals and the process. The primary function of mentorship is to enhance awareness of how we can influence our lives. Mentoring helps decide what the mentee will focus on or change. It could be about bringing change to an organization, a team, or a person. Mentoring is different than coaching. While coaching can be considered as dealing with the present, mentoring is about the future. Typically, a mentor’s scope is broader than a coach’s. A mentor enables the mentee to build wider networks to learn from and to build influence. They act as sounding boards, advisors, and even role models. Mentoring can be characterized as:
  • Long term
  • Informal
  • Development driven
An understanding of the environment in which the relationship functions is critical for mentoring to be effective. It must include:
  • Knowledge of the purpose of a mentor – to unlock the mentee’s potential, not correct their deficiencies. Correcting deficiencies is the responsibility of the mentee.
  • The willingness to talk openly. At the same time, the relationship must provide the opportunity to decline to act or discuss what a mentee is uncomfortable with.
  • Acceptance of the fact that achieving long-term successes may entail encountering short-term failures.

What is Counseling?

Counseling creates a safe and supportive environment where we can deal with challenges. Under this framework, we share our challenges with the counselor in a trusted and non-judgmental environment. A qualified counselor is trained to listen and respond in a manner that helps us perceive ourselves and others better. Typically, the characteristics of counseling are:
  • It is retrospective
  • It considers the counselor as the authority
  • It is “why” focused
  • It is theory-driven and long term
  • It offers guidance and advice
  Difference between Coaching, Mentoring and Counselling

What is Coaching Supervision?

Coaching supervision is a collaborative learning process to build a coach’s capacity through reflective dialogue. It helps create a secure environment for coaches to share their successes and failures. The motive is to help such professionals master the art of working with their clients. Coaching supervision includes:
  • Examining the internal processes of the coach through reflective analysis
  • Unraveling blind spots that may exist
  • Examination of all aspects of the coach-client relationship for growth opportunities in the system
  • Working to ensure that the coach is ready for the task
Coaches who receive coaching supervision attain:
  • Greater self-awareness
  • Increased confidence
  • Enhanced objectivity
  • Greater sense of belonging
  • Greater resourcefulness

What is the Difference between Coaching and Coaching Supervision?

The two are often mixed up as both involve asking questions, supporting individuals in realizing their potential, and providing them with a space for reflection. In reality, they are pretty different. The differences between coaching and coaching supervision lie in:
  • Differing focus
Coaching supervision emphasizes thinking, while coaching is focused on goals and outcomes. If coaching is referred to in a corporate context, ‘SMART’ goals (Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, Time-bound) often come into play. In a coaching assignment, a coach will ask the persons being coached their goals, what success looks like, and what metrics determine success. In coaching supervision, the supervisor will explore why supervision is sought and what to expect. However, the outcome is not explicitly defined. This is because becoming a better coach is a continuous process. Development never ceases, and hence no definite endpoint can be determined. Coaching supervision essentially focuses on providing space for reflection on one’s coaching practice rather than on actions to attain a defined outcome. Although coaching and coaching supervision focus on developing people, coaching applies to any aspect of a person’s professional or personal life. In contrast, coaching supervision focuses solely on developing the coach’s coaching abilities.
  • Systemic approach
Developing coaching abilities involves learning a new competency. Any coach is expected to embrace continuous professional development. Coaching the coach enables the coach to identify the areas that require action. Since coaching supervision aims to build coaching abilities, the coach’s client’s perspective is always considered. Thus, coaching supervision takes a more comprehensive, systemic approach and includes the supervisor, the coach, and the client.
  • Expertise
In general, any coach is an expert in people development. However, a coaching supervisor, in addition to being a good coach, should also have a good understanding of the development of coaches. They should be able to evaluate a coach’s present stage of development and recommend the ideal next steps. A trained and experienced coaching supervisor typically has broader knowledge than a coach. The benefits of coaching, counseling, and mentoring will substantially outweigh the investments made in time and effort. For effective learning development and workforce coaching, the process should include:
  • Converting every moment into an opportunity to coach, mentor and counsel
Often, the most impactful coaching and mentoring opportunities are informal. These informal moments have the potential to grow into more extended and meaningful conversations.
  • Laying the groundwork for a healthy relationship
The foundation for effective coaching is an open relationship. For coaching to be effective, it is essential to foster a healthy professional and personal relationship with employees. Having a solid personal relationship (without losing objectivity) and a professional relationship augment coaching and counseling efforts.
  • Use failures and mistakes as coaching and mentoring opportunities
Good coaching turns failures and mistakes into opportunities to drive home valuable lessons. A genuine error is a chance to teach and turn employees into productive employees.
  • A system of recognition and rewards
Motivation is essential when people are expected to exceed their known limitations. Recognizing and rewarding good work motivates people to move past their comfort zones, be innovative, and deliver superior performance. Publicly visible recognition and tangible rewards encourage employees to excel.
  • Provide detailed feedback
Giving detailed and specific feedback provides employees with guidance to grow professionally. Specific feedback lets employees know what works and why – helping them work harder to improve on these aspects.
  • Informal conversations as opportunities for coaching and counseling
Everyday interactions with employees do not need to be on frivolous subjects. Conversely, coaching interactions need not always be formal. Informal settings help deliver complex messages. Everyday interactions can be leveraged and used as coaching and mentoring opportunities.

 Final Thoughts

Coaching supervision helps organizations uphold coaching, mentoring, and counseling standards and balance delicate organizational stands on ethical issues. It fosters a safe and supportive environment for the organization’s coaches to learn and grow to help others perform effectively and to their full potential. We at uExcelerate help improve coaching supervision by developing strong internal coaching processes, strengthening team relationships, and empowering people by assisting them in realizing their full potential. Our AI-powered SaaS platform powers coaching at scale and help organizations build a sustainable coaching culture. Want to sign up for our coaching supervision program? Write to us at [email protected] today! We partners with organizations like yours to build personalized coaching and coaching supervision programs for all your coaching needs. Interested in learning more about our platform? Click to book a demo.
Kanika Gupta

Kanika Gupta