Coaching and mentoring opportunities are now available across the University. But what is the difference between the two? We review the differing strengths of the two approaches.

The main difference between mentoring and coaching is that a mentor is ideally someone close to your field and area of expertise. They should ideally be someone whose career you admire and would like to emulate. Coaching, on the other hand, is usually delivered by someone with no knowledge of your field. Coaching involves guided meetings where the participant can talk about anything. The coach then typically helps the participant to move forward with varying problems by helping to identify negative thought patterns, bad assumptions, and generally helping the participant to have a fresh, positive perspective on the situation. At the University of Manchester, the Manchester GOLD mentoring scheme has been running for over a decade, with between 50 and 120 mentor-mentee pairings each year. Anyone can apply to be a mentee if they want help with their career development; often this is a specific aim, e.g. to develop managerial skills, to expand networks or simply to learn about possible career routes and help to define future career goals.

Coaching and mentoring can be used together, as coaching is often focussed on more short-term goals, with mentoring focussing on longer-term career development goals. If you are interested in either mentoring or coaching (or both!) you can start by contacting your faculty research staff developer (contacts on the back page).

For more info see the latest issue 16 of Incite for a comparison between coaching and mentoring!