The Do’s and Don’ts of Mentoring and Coaching

February 7, 2023
June 26, 2023
Leadership And Mentoring

This is a guest post from our friends over at Guider, giving you the simple do’s and don’ts that’ll help you nail mentoring and coaching. Click here to find out more about Guider and their mentoring, coaching and peer learning solutions.

We’d love to tell you that there’s no wrong way to do mentoring and coaching. Unfortunately, that just wouldn’t be true. There are things that you can do, and not do, that will help make the relationship a success.

We all know that mentoring and coaching are effective forms of learning and development, it’s why we do them! Done right, they both provide opportunities for continuous learning as well as the opportunity to connect to one another.

Yet, done wrong, you may find the relationships fizzle out or become a chore.

So, how do you make the most of these two types of learning? That’s where it’s important to pay attention to the do’s and don’ts of mentoring and coaching.

What’s the difference between mentoring and coaching?

First up, it’s important to understand that even though there are similarities between coaching and mentoring, they are different.

  • Coaching involves a trained coach working with a coachee. They are paid for their time and focus on working with the coachee on key development areas.
  • Mentors, however, are voluntary. They will share their own experience and build a more personal relationship in which learning takes place.

While they are different, below we break down the top things you should be doing in both.

What should you be doing in mentoring and coaching?

Focusing on these top 5 areas and help you to make the most of the relationship.

1. Ask questions

Open and honest communication is the key to any successful relationship. In mentoring and coaching, it’s important that everyone is comfortable asking questions.

This way you can get to know one another, build rapport and ensure that you’re on the same page. In both coaching and mentoring, you learn through talking to one another and building a relationship, which makes asking questions essential!

2. Active listening

Similarly, all parties in mentoring and coaching need to practice active listening. In a busy world, we’re often listening to respond. Active listening is the practice of listening to understand.

A key skill to master, actively listening to each other will help you to really understand the challenges and ideas at hand. This also means showing people you are listening through body language, thoughtful questions and remembering the topics you’ve spoken about.

3. Come prepared

Mentoring and coaching are opportunities to learn and grow, don’t waste the opportunity by not showing up prepared. This means making notes, following up on action points and getting in the right mindset for sessions.

Depending on your preferences, it’s important to keep track of sessions and make sure you do what you say you will before the next one. You can also create an agenda for each session and put together a personal development plan to keep you on track.

4. Adopt a growth mindset

This is more than just a buzzword. A growth mindset means approaching new situations with the attitude that you are there to learn.

We all benefit from staying open minded and focusing on how we can grow. In mentoring and coaching, it’s important to cultivate this mindset to get the most out of the sessions.

5. Run through open doors

This one applies particularly to mentees and coachees. When your coach or mentor offers you an open door, run through it!

This is your chance to learn in a one-on-one setting with someone that is here to help you specifically. Whether it’s a mentor introducing you to a colleague, or a coach recommending reading materials, make sure you’re grabbing opportunities with both hands.

What should you avoid doing in coaching and mentoring?

As much as we like to keep things positive, there are some things to look out for in coaching and mentoring. These are:  

1. Making assumptions

We all make judgements, have unconscious bias or are guilty of assuming things without asking. We’re all human. But in mentoring and coaching relationships it’s important not to let this cloud your judgment.

When you feel yourself making assumptions about what’s being discussed, take a step back and ask a question instead. Being aware of our own bias or projections can help us tune into other people and enrich the mentoring or coaching experience.

2. Not communicating clearly

For mentoring and coaching to work, both parties need to be open and honest in their communication.

From deciding when and how often to meet, to giving praise and feedback, communication is at the heart of the process.

Remember, if you don’t feel that you can speak openly in sessions then it may be the wrong match for you. It’s better to say that sooner rather than later so you can both find another match.

3. Not getting started!

A common mistake to avoid in mentoring and coaching is procrastination. Maybe you’re waiting for the right time or person, or maybe you think you’re not ready to become a mentor. It’s time to throw out your excuses!

Finding an hour a week, fortnight or month, is all it takes to invest in learning. When you find a good match you’ll be surprised how much you learn from each other and how these relationships can positively impact your life.

So, there we have it, our top do’s and don’ts of mentoring and coaching. Both methods of learning are fantastic ways to improve your growth at work and help others. This has so many benefits, from career progression to improved mental health. By following these simple top tips, you can sure to start your journey on the right track and reap the rewards.

Bio: Frances Campbell is a Content Writer at the mentoring and peer learning platform, Guider She is a certified mentoring expert; with a Certificate in Mentoring from the Institute of Counselling. Connect with her on LinkedIn to find out more.