Coaching can support mentors and mentees to maximize the mentor relationship.
First of all, recognize that one of the challenges of discussing mentoring is that there is a difference when people use “mentor” as a noun and use “mentor” as a verb. Mentor comes from Greek mythology and is the name (Mentor) of the wise trusted counselor whom Odysseus chose for his son Telemachus. At Leadership on Speed LLC, we tend toward the noun camp and define mentoring as “the voluntary developmental relationship that exists between a person of greater experience and a person of lesser experience that is characterized by mutual trust and respect.”
With that understanding, we highly encourage and support the use of mentors in the career development process but in this context, a mentor’s role is not to “coach” but rather to be a resource for advice and guidance. Mentoring is essentially a future oriented developmental activity focused on growing in your profession. It uses advice and feedback linked to the actual experience of the mentor. Unfortunately, few mentors are educated in the behavioral assessments and methodologies that so successfully address other aspects of overall career success. Therefore, we believe that while mentoring can be an invaluable asset in the career development process, as a stand-alone tool it is often limiting in its impact but can make an excellent compliment to coaching.