In my last article, I outlined different ways in which businesses can grow and develop their employees. Two common development tools are coaching and mentoring.

In this article, I will explore the differences between the two and when they can be used. Both approaches can be used on an informal on-going basis by line managers as part of their day to day interactions with their team members.

Alternatively, depending on the reasons for the support, you may want to implement a more formal, structured approach to staff development from an internal work colleague or bring in external expertise.


Coaching is often associated with the world of sport. The approach is solution focused, often linked to personal, professional, team or organisational objectives.

It focuses on the individual to help them to develop their experience or confidence in a particular area. This may be for their current post or future development. Coaching is often used for middle and senior managers to help prepare them for their next role for example.

The role of a coach is to help the individual to develop their own ideas and solutions. The coach doesn’t have to have a background in the coachee’s work to be able to help them.

A skilled coach is able to guide a coachee without giving them the answers to problems, usually through asking questions and good listening and reflection skills.


The word ‘mentor’ originates from Greek mythology and has evolved to mean trusted friend, advisor and teacher.

The role of a mentor is to share the benefits of their knowledge, skills and experience for the mentee’s personal and professional development. Typically this involves a senior or more experienced employee teaching a new or junior colleague to help them develop their skills, knowledge, experience and confidence in their role.

A mentor can also play a valuable role by acting as a sounding board to talk through issues and concerns and find solutions to problems.

How can HR Solutions Yorkshire help?

We can support businesses in the following ways:

• One to one coaching and mentoring for line managers, business owners and HR professionals
• Design and delivery of coaching workshops
• Design and implementation of training and development plans

To find out more please call 01937 591577 or 07495 857525. You can also email, or visit our website at