mentor or coach idea

Do You Need A Coach Or Mentor To Be Successful?

1. Could You Benefit From Having A Coach Or Mentor?

Did you wake up today realizing you need expert professional or personal support? Whether that expert help is from a mentor or coach really depends what you want to achieve. Although, recognizing you need guidance and support is a great first step, making the right choice could be critical. This article will help you choose between a mentor or a coach.

If you have been struggling on your own for a while, and know that continual training is necessary for you to reach your full potential, the actual speed and benefits of one-to-one support and guidance may surprise you.

Whether you have specific goals, like developing new skills, or want support in your personal development, both mentoring and coaching is invaluable. In fact, some analysts suggest that both a mentor and a coach is beneficial! Whichever you choose you are definitely moving in the right direction towards achieving your personal and professional goals. Although coaching and mentoring are becoming increasingly popular in the workplace, if you are suffering from a lack of confidence, or stress you may prefer to find your own individual solution. For example, you may be confident in your skillset, but recognise the need to improve your interpersonal skills, or vice versa. Good mentors and coaches are often stated as the reason behind success stories. In fact someone with a mentor is five times more likely to be promoted than someone without a mentor. The best way to decide what you need right now, is to look a little deeper into the role of a mentor and coach, and how they can help you.

2. What Is a Mentor?

Mentors want to help others by sharing their professional experience, they may be of any age, gender or job title. A mentor can help both with personal and professional development and are invaluable as they share their experiences without any direct need, or remit, for performance improvements. Mentors cannot be direct managers, as managers have incentives to improve their team’s performance.

2a. What Does a Mentor Do?

A good mentor will not necessarily initiate the mentoring relationship.  Although in the workplace a new mentor may be part of your package when you join a larger company or organization. Mentors have a wealth of personal experience to share, and can also introduce you to company culture, as well as offer different perspectives on your current circumstances. Mentors are not necessarily trained specifically to mentor people.

2b. Statistics On Effectiveness of Mentoring

There  are many studies that show effective mentorship is beneficial for employees and organizations. Most surprising, perhaps, is that organizations are increasingly willing to offer mentoring programs and professional coaching, as they increasingly recognize the benefits as:
  • increased employee retention
  • higher levels of contentment and happiness
  • greater satisfaction at work
76% employees in a recent survey of 3000 full time workers, in more than 21 different industries, feel that having a mentor is important. However, only 37% of those survey say they have one. Further studies show that:
  • 71% of the top Fortune 500 companies use mentoring programs
  • 97% of mentees say they are valuable (Reference)
  • 89% of mentees will go on to mentor other people (Reference)

3. What Is a Coach?

why get a life coach chart
Coaches used to be a term only used in the sports world. Coaching entered the business world in the 1980s, led by Thomas Leonard. He was a financial planner who taught frameworks to executives to help them to organize their lives better. Life coaches or Business Coaches watch you practice skill sets and help you identify areas to improve, similar to sports coaches. Although they also provide feedback on your performance – unlike sports coaches, they rate your performance and provide guidance and training on skill sets which will improve your performance in life.

They can also enable you to discover the unconscious thoughts behind your behaviour in order to produce change.  New “thinking” leads to new behaviour

3a. What Does a Coach Do?

As a trained professional, a coach helps their clients identify solutions to their current problems and enables them in skill development. They can also help them develop a particular, specific skill like leadership, management or even starting a new business. Unlike a mentor a coach does not need to be working in the same industry as you.   They will be able to enable clearer goals and help you make progress towards them both personal and professional. Professional coaching is often targeted towards executives and senior managers. Whereas personal life coaches focus on confidence building, stress management, financial management or relationship development. A holistic life coach, like myself, will help you look at all areas of your life, and this is usually navigated in a 6-month program of coaching. Coaching offers significant tangible results like:
  • reduced burnout
  • lower stress
  • increase in passion
  • stronger resilience

For more about coaching, check out 10 Reasons Why You Need A Life Coach

3b. Statistics on the Benefits of Coaching

Statistics of the effectiveness of coaching in Fortune 1000 companies show positive results for companies in the following areas:
  1. Increased job satisfaction – 61%
  2. Conflict reduction – 52%
  3. Improvements in Customer service – 39%
  4. Reduction of customer complaints – 34%
  5. Retainment of top executives – 32%
  6. Cost reductions – 23%
  7. Increase in profitability – 22%
  8. Improved teamwork – reported by 67% of executives
ROI and performance studies show:
  • Metrix Global found that companies received an average return of $7.90 for every $1 invested in executive coaching
  • Personnel Management Association’s internal reports saw that when training is combined with coaching, individuals increase their productivity by an average of 86% compared to 22% with training alone
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) surveyed coaching clients who had a formal, on-going relationship with a coach with an average duration of 9 months. The results were that:
  • 70% viewed business coaching as “very valuable.”
  • 50% confide in their coach in a similar way to their best friend, partner or therapist
Some of the notable outcomes of coaching they found were:
  • 62.4% smarter goal-setting
  • 60.5% improvements in work/life balance
  • 57.1% lower stress levels
  • 52.4% felt more self-confidence
  • 25.7% of clients reported increases in income
Results show that business coaching helps business people to manage and control both their business and personal life better and increase their quality of life. Stress management, future outlook and financial planning is also improved. The significant difference between business people who are coached and those are not, indicated that those who do not engage a life or business coach are at risk of being left behind.

3c. Statistics About Effectiveness of Life Coaching

Tom Casano at compiled statistics about the value of life coaching and his experience show what clients hire coaches to:
  • Be more confident
  • Achieve goals and be successful
  • Find happiness
  • Do and find what they love to do
  • Find life purpose
  • Decide on, or change careers
This survey shows that reported outcomes:
  • 90% of clients who hired a coach were satisfied
  • 96% of clients report they will hire a coach again
  • 80% report an increase in self-confidence
  • 73% report improvements in their relationships
  • 72% improved communication skills
  • 67% improved they work–life balance
  • 61% improved their business management
  • 57% improved their time management

4. The Key Differences Between Coaches & Mentors

Coaching Mentoring
Formal vs. Informal Paid, formal contract Informal, voluntary relationship
Outcomes Evaluative – with focus on achieve Not performance related
Motivator Coach drives Mentee led
Regularity Fixed Schedule: ensuring accountability Dependant on availability
Duration Short-term: 3-6 months Long-term
Focus Specific short-term goals Open ended
Background Usually, industry specific Across industry
A good coach will use different ways to help you learn more about yourself. This will be a different experience and result in different results to a mentoring relationship, where the mentor will share their personal experience. An effective coach will help you define specific goals in a particular time period, and also share their life experience, if appropriate. However, an effective coach is a trained professional and will normally follow a specific coaching ideology that has proven results. Where a mentor will base their guidance and advice on their own experience, a life coach or business coaches follow a step-by-step plan which leads to performance improvements.

That could be progress towards your own personal goals, or professional gaols.

Development of leadership skills, for example. is a popular area for coaching. Similarly, career development is a popular area which both mentors and life coaches can help you with. Most professional realize that they have to do something different to their competitors to reach their full potential. Others may realize that they need to develop new skills and positive habits to maintain their mental health. Levels of depression tripled during the Covid-19 lockdowns. The strain of living and often working from home, negatively impacted mental health. This has led to a new discussion nationally, and globally on the importance of recognising the need for mental health monitoring and support. 80% of people,  working from home, have reported feeling stressed, and 25% of those surveyed by Nuffield Health, found it difficult to cope with social isolation.

More about managing stress when remote working.

 However, the most striking difference you may find is that coaches are paid trained professionals, which charge a fee for working with you, whilst mentors are often volunteers.

The coaching relationship is requested by the individual however, it is driven by the coach, who follows a specific series of guidelines. The ground rules for your mentoring or coaching relationship will of course differ from individual to individual, however specific areas can overlap. For example, your specific needs in creating a better life for yourself, may be too general for you to tackle on your own. In this case a trained life coach will help you clarify your goals and enable you to move towards them. Whereas if you are new to an organization, mentors are often a great way to learn about company culture. Mentors from within your own organization can help open doors for new managers, for example, and in the longer term through sharing their first-hand experiences, teach by example. An older more experienced employed in your organisation who is not a direct manager, offering to share their wealth of experience is obviously a great start for new employees. However, to maintain an ongoing relationship can be difficult with your mentor, and is dependant on their availability. Many life coaches, such as myself, offer a holistic approach to coaching, which enables clients to have a better understanding of themselves, and why they do what they do. This can be effective in altering behaviour. Having a better understanding of the reasons beneath destructive, or self-sabotaging actions is a long term benefit that coaching client will benefit from forever, even though the coaching period may be short. One of the reasons why you should speak to your coach before entering a coaching program, in order to find the right life coach for you. So to recap briefly:
  • Coaches are usually employed over a short-term basis, and focus on specific outcomes or goals
  • Mentors are usually for a minimum of six months and could work over a longer time period
  • Mentors offer hands-on experience from your industry or organizations
  • Coaches offer skills and training for people in many different types of industries
  • Most importantly a coach can offer you additional skills and which offer solutions for your problems
  • A mentee offers guidance, whereas a coach can provide feedback and comment on styles and ways of working as well as uncovering unconscious limiting beliefs holding and individual back

5. When To Choose A Mentor Or Choose A Coach

Focus on your short term and long term goals, and you will find it easy to choose which you need first of all, of if you need both!  If you just need a short, effective boost take a look at this coaching offer. Mentor
  • Can give you career advice
  • Talk through problems
  • Grow your network
  • Is someone you look up to as a role model
  • Develop specific skills
  • Timebound relationship for results
  • Receive actionable feedback
  • Greater accountability

Whatever you choose, choose fast! Don’t let your indecision rob you of future success!

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