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Home/Blog/Coaching or Mentoring. Which is the right one for me?

At some stage of your personal or professional journey you may feel that you need some help from an external source. This is when people seek out a coach or a mentor but the burning question is often “What is the difference between the two and which one is right for me?”

Coaching is about setting and achieving goals. A coach of a basketball or football team will put in place a game plan and then watch from the sidelines to see what is working and what isn’t. They will be encouraging or scathing depending on the performance of the individuals or the team. A good business or personal coach should provide balanced and honest feedback to help you achieve your agreed goals. Think of a coach as you would a Personal Fitness Trainer.

Mentoring is very different. Mentoring is a structured conversation about a particular issue. It’s a deep analysis of the situation, why it’s occurred, what part you had to play in it, and most importantly what do YOU have to do to address and rectify it. A good mentor will not provide ideas or solutions but lead you to a place where you come up with your own ideas. Mentoring is a very high level learning experience. Your mentor should be someone who you see as a role model that you aspire to be. They will help to guide you especially through tough times.

So when you’re ready to decide which one is right for you, consider both of the above situations and chose wisely.

Here are some tips when selecting and working with a coach or mentor.

1. Do they fit my values? Make sure that you have a similar culture or pattern of behavior. A mismatch will lead to frustration. Remember that your personal values are aligned to but not always the same as your business ones.

2. Have they been there and done that? Why would you ever take advice or assistance from someone who has not successfully walked the path that you’re on? Interview them as you would an employee and talk to people that they have worked with recently. Make sure they refer you to someone who is doing what you are. Testimonials from their mum or best friends don’t count ha ha ha.

3. Is this value for money? A good coach or mentor can be priceless but don’t fall for the trap of buying their marketing spin. Make sure that they can clearly articulate the benefits that you will receive by working with them and then …

4. Set KPI’s. Put in place some tangible measures to show you both that it’s working. Going from session to session without measurable markers can be expensive and money not well spent.

5. Set review periods. Set times to review progress for the above. Success may not always be instant but don’t wait too long to see results. End the relationship early rather that later if it’s not working and go and find another one.

If you have any further questions regarding the selection or use of a coach or mentor then please feel free to email me at mervneal@laughteryoga.org at anytime. Any recommendations for future topics are also appreciated.

Merv Neal is a Laughter Yoga Master Trainer and the CEO of Laughter Yoga Australia and New Zealand. He has successfully owned and operated his own businesses for more than 40 years. He has created a Laughter Yoga Business Training Program to help others to take Laughter Yoga to commercial organizations, and/or to create a Laughter Yoga business of their own. More information can be found at http://www.laughteryoga-australia.org