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Are you confused between the different development approaches?

We are here explaining what Mentoring, Coaching & Counseling is:

In the workplace, people’s needs are never fixed they always travel through a development track and accordingly their needs for development may be met with the support of a coach, mentor, career counsellor, trainer or a manager. There is an obvious confusion between the different methods with each having a support, direction, performance or personal well-being concentration in their career, organization or even their whole life context.

Developing your employees’ skills is mainly considered improving their performance, while developing their competencies is better assisted through support and direction and developing their character through focusing on their personal well-being and supporting their development.

Mentoring, Coaching & Counseling approaches have been differentiated by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and are usually delivered by professionals with different qualifications and different relationships with their clients, although their processes are so much alike.

Mentoring is a long-term relationship between the mentor and the mentee, where their potentials are being identified and nurtured. The process and objectives are set by the mentees, and the mentor is involved in the feedback process only by providing the mentees the required support to make them aware of their own experiences through an intrinsic observation. This approach will never succeed unless there is clear action plan and objectives are agreed on in advance.

Coaching is a short-term relationship between the coach and the coachee, where the aim is to improve the performance in certain skills area. The coach usually suggest the objective, while the coachee has the primary ownership of the objective and process. Finally, the feedback is provided by the coach where they share with the coachee what they have observed. This will not be achieved unless there is support from Senior Managers and when both parties are committed to the program.

Counseling is strictly a relationship between the counselors and their clients. It focuses on supporting individuals who are not able to function as they wish, for example individuals who are suffering from emotional distress. It is carried out by licensed and trained experts, who assist their clients by using a range of processes and techniques to address the observed emotional issues.

To sum it up, the aim and general feel of counseling is very different from those of coaching and mentoring, although they all have a one to one approach. As it focuses on the employees behavior rather than increasing their performance, as their behavior might influence the morale and performance of the whole team rather than an individual’s performance. It is perhaps the most difficult approach, as it requires the counselor to get the root cause of the individual’s behavior and actually working with them to change it.

Neither coaching nor mentoring is about giving instructions to people or telling them what to do. The role of both coaches and mentors is to ask their protégé - whether a coachee or a mentee – the correct questions to stimulate a more informed decision-making, a proper self-awareness, and how the right solutions might be accomplished rather than just solving the problem.

Both Coaches and Counselors ask questions but the difference is that counseling goal is to stimulate self-acceptance, self-understanding, and not addressing tasks or assessing performance while Mentoring has a wider focus, as it works on the individual’s personal and professional development.