Mentorship & Coaching for Professionals.

As the owner of HIREghana ( and an active recruiter, my associates and I are also involved in mentoring, coaching and counselling of candidates from all sort of seniority levels. Yesterday, I participated into two meetings regarding setting up mentorship- activities and these 2 activities made me decide to write this article on Mentorship and Coaching.

What is Mentoring?
According to CIPD:
“Mentoring involves the use of the same models and skills of questioning, listening, clarifying and reframing associated with coaching.

Traditionally, however, mentoring in the workplace has tended to describe a relationship in which a more experienced colleague uses his or her greater knowledge and understanding of the work or workplace to support the development of a more junior or inexperienced member of staff.”

What is Coaching?
Again, according to CIPD:
“Coaching targets high performance and improvement at work and usually focuses on specific skills and goals, although it may also have an impact on an individual’s personal attributes such as social interaction or confidence. The process typically lasts for a relatively short defined period of time, or forms the basis of an on-going management style.”

Mentoring vs Coaching.
Instead of writing endless paragraphs, I am putting all in the table below.

Mentoring versus Coaching (© 2016 Irene Gloria Addison & Human Intelligence Recruitment Ltd)
Mentoring Coaching
A Mentoring is an ongoing relationship that spans aver a long period of time Coaching because it has a specific target, it also has a specific set duration too
Ideally is more informal– Meetings take place when the mentee needs advice/ guidance Coaching is more structured in nature; meetings are scheduled on a regular basis
Since it’s a long-term activity by nature: it has a broader scope taking into account the mentee as a person Time-bounded and focused on specific development areas/issues
Mentor is more experienced and qualified than the mentee A Coach can be just an expert in a particular subject area. E.g. interviewing process & relevant skills
Focus is usually both on career and personal development Focus is specifically on work issues/ development; but it can also be on personal issues/challenges
The Mentor is usually a senior person in the organization who can pass on knowledge and experience Coaching is very specific and skills-focused. The coached person is basically a ‘client’.
And excellent Mentor will also open doors -for the mentee- to otherwise out-of-reach opportunities Coaching rarely opens doors, that depends on the Coach’s personality- thus don’t take it as a given
Agenda is set by the mentee: the mentor provides just support/ guidance to prepare them for future Coaching Agenda should always be focused on achieving specific, immediate & measurable goals
A good Mentor works on developing the mentee as a full professional, looking at all aspects. The excellent Coach directly resolves specific development issues of the ‘client’

From no won in this article, whenever I mention Mentoring, I will imply Coaching too (since you know read the differences). I will not be focusing nor addressing Counselling (= helping an individual to improve performance by resolving situations from the past) nor imply it when I talk about mentorship.

What are possible issues with Mentorships.
Mentorship like any other relationship requires a clear definition of a expectations from both parties and a clear sense of purpose. These clarifications will help the mentee to achieve his/her goal of the mentoring relationship. In the business world, we never see a company advertise their failures, and even when the failures are turned into best practices and case studies for business students that happens years later and it is mostly about business processes. I just searched the Harvard Business School’s Case Study Database of over 62,000 business and management materials, and HBS did not have a single Case Study on mentorship of their own

Mentoring programmes / relationships do fail from a variety of causes:

  • Clarity of expectations: This is the most common issue: most relationships fade away within a few months, because both sides wait for the other person to tell them what they should do.
  • Clarity of purpose about the programme: Why is there (or will be) a mentorship programme in place, why it is really being done, what is it expected of all participants, what are the respective roles and responsibilities of mentor and mentee are, and what are the desired outcomes.
  • Official Mentoring time allowance: mentors and mentees should be able to take working time out for their meetings; they should not be penalized for not investing that time to create billable hours.
  • Adjustable Mentoring: for example a summer intern or a fresh- out- of- college employee requires a different approach from that for a senior professional/ manager/ executive. Always take into account the level of maturity and experiences of the mentee.
  • Lack of proper commitment. Sure the management team of a company has to commit to a corporate mentorship program, but the line managers have to be engaged to and not been seen as another fruitless HR exercise.

How can you have a good Mentorship/ ‘Coachship’?

1. Natural Selection
Ok, it’s not exactly like that, but not everybody is born to be a great mentor or even the right mentor for you. The same is true for the mentees: not all mentees are the right ones who could match a given Mentor’s expectations. Personality chemistry is important and so is mutual respect.

2. Clarify Expectations
I hope that is clear by all written above.
3. Plan It
Like any other activity that spans over time, it requires planning too. Set a mutually agreed ‘project plan’, so both Mentor and mentee are clear on expected milestones and relative timelines.

4. Prepare.
Don’t go as a mentor or mentee to a mentorship meeting without a specific and clear agenda. Define topics and expected outcomes

5. Be Professional
However informal and casual and friend a mentor could be, this is still a professional relationship so always treat it as such.

6. Measure / Quantify Progress.
Measure, measure, measure! Effective measurements of the milestones reached and relevant timelines are key points, especially during the first 12 months of a new mentorship relationship. It would keep the mentee on track, and it keeps a transparent view on the mentorship and what each side is gaining from it.

Do CEOs have mentors/ coaches?
Of course they do. Everybody can have a mentor regardless of age or seniority level. Basically Executive Coaching is a whole industry on its own! But a CEO is a lonely role and if s/he has a good relationship with his/ her Board of Directors, the BoD are ideally his/her ultimate mentors.

What can you do next?
Go out there and mentor someone who has less experience than you. If you are a bit shy, there are a lot of online sites who will help you find a mentee.

Looking for a mentor? Use LinkedIn or approach people with respect, and work on building and maintaining a good relationship with your Mentor, even if s/he lives at the Edge of the Universe (I always wanted to write that). Again, there are plenty of websites where you can find a mentor and most of them are free (sponsored by nonprofits).

If someone helped you in your career when you were taking the lift up, maybe now is the time to pay it forward.

Reach out and help people please. Mentor them. Ghana needs you!



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