UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health


Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health



How does mentoring differ from coaching?

Mentoring and coaching are similar in many ways. Coaching is more performance driven, designed to improve the professional's on-the-job performance. Mentoring is more development driven, looking not just at the professional's current job function but beyond, taking a more holistic approach to career development

Will mentoring help to improve my performance in my current role?

Unlike coaching, which is more performance related, mentoring does not involve specific guidance to achieve a goal.  Mentoring offers support and encouragement to help you reach your goals.

How can I separate mentoring needs from coaching needs?

It is very difficult as there are many overlapping features between mentoring and coaching.

Does it matter that mentoring crosses into coaching?

No, the two processes are best seen as complementary. The overall aim is to achieve the all round development of an individual within the context of a supportive professional relationship.

How can I tell if I am receiving coaching or mentoring?

A coach will ask more questions whereas a mentor will try to answer your questions.

What if I want to continue with mentoring beyond the first year?

That is OK.  Mentoring has several stages: exploration, understanding and action.  These will vary from person to person.  Some stages may take longer.

How long will the exploration stage take?

It depends what you are looking for.  Some aspects of development need to be explored in-depth.  For example if significant change is needed for you to develop, and this involves rethinking personal or professional attitudes and behaviours, you may find several months of exploration is needed with topics revisited as you change and develop.  If practical changes are needed such as upskilling or increasing knowledge, this may be easier to identify and action.  It could take days or even hours!

How will I know if the relationship is not effective?

This will be for the mentor and mentee to decide together.  If exploration does not seem to be leading anywhere – it is time to review.

Will it always be possible to reach a new understanding?

If the mentor/mentee relationship is effective it should be possible to reach a new understanding.  This can be difficult for both sides.  The mentor may have to challenge the mentee who may be resistant.  Both sides will need to give and take.  The mentor should be supportive and sensitive to the mentee’s needs but the mentee must help by showing willingness to learn and change if needed.

As a mentor, how can I help my mentee to plan their actions?

You can help by reviewing the mentoring process and talking through the options for action and the possible consequences with your mentee

What can I do to help my mentee form an action plan?

You can encourage them to find new ways of thinking, to look at things from different angles.  You can help with decision making and the forming of an action plan.

How can the mentor and mentee take an action plan forward?

You can work together as a partnership to monitor progress and evaluate outcomes.