The terms 'mentoring' and 'coaching' are often used interchangeably but research literature differentiates between the two. Mentoring is defined as a broad range of supports for individuals transitioning into new roles. Mentoring is often a long-term relationship between a less-experienced person and a mentor who is well-experienced. Coaching, on the other hand, is a formal and intentional process designed to focus on a coachee's learning needs and is led by a trained coach.
Mentoring can be an invaluable support because individuals often choose their own mentors and maintain the relationships over a long period of time. Below are a few suggestions about mentors over the life of a career. These suggestions below are adapted from: "Keeping Great People with Three Kinds of Mentors" by Anthony Tjan.
- Peer mentors. In the early stages of a person's career, a mentor can help speed up the learning curve. This relationship helps the mentee understand how things work at the organization.
- Career mentors. After the initial period at a workplace, employees need to have a senior staff member serve as a career advisor and advocate.
- Life mentors. A life mentor serves as a periodic sounding board when one is faced with a career challenge. Organizations can't necessarily offer a life mentor but they can encourage seeking one.