Mentorship Offers Many Benefits for Your Business

As a follow-up to my previous article about coaching, let’s talk about mentoring. Coaching and mentoring both exist for the same purpose: help your company grow by helping employees grow, develop and reach their full potential.

Coaching and mentoring are frequently grouped together when discussing employee development. But there are several differences between coaching and mentoring, so it’s important to see them as separate things and understand how they can work together.

Different Definitions

Use alliteration to remember the definitions and differences.

Coaching > Completing

A coach guides an employee to help them reach or complete their goals. You can coach an individual or even a large group at the same time.

Mentoring > Modeling

Mentoring is a one-to-one-based relationship. A mentor shares their knowledge, skills and experiences, to help another to develop and grow. You serve as a model of behavior for another employee.

One of the most distinct differences is that mentoring is directive, with coaching being non-directive. For example, in a mentoring meeting, it is likely to be the mentor doing more of the talking. In a coaching session, it is likely to be the coach posing questions and giving the person they are coaching the space to reflect and do most of the talking.

Differences in mentoring and coaching:

Mentoring Coaching
Goal Widen perspective Fulfill potential
Timeframe Long term Short term
Guidance Giving directional advice to help solve problems Helping employee find their own solution to problems with explicit direction
Result Ensure problems solved Develop problem solvers
Orientation Practical Goal

Why Mentoring Matters

When you talk to a successful professional about the trajectory of their carrier, along with hard work and persistence, they will probably mention a person or people that helped them along the way.

Workplace mentoring is cost-effective for existing, well-trained employees to provide guidance and knowledge to less-experienced employees. The mentor is typically not the direct manager or supervisor of the mentee, and the outcomes differ, depending on the program’s goals.

  • 76% of people think mentors are important
  • 71% of Fortune 500 Companies have mentorship programs

Personal and individual positive mentorship supports the success of your company and offers many benefits, including:

Employee retention

With a mentorship program, you are saying to employees, “We are genuine about cultivating people that want to grow with our organization, or at least give you a good amount of time to grow here.”

In addition to showing faith in senior employees by asking them to help others, mentorship tells mentees the company cares about them. Millennials intending to stay with their organization for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor (68%) than not (32%).

Reinforce workplace culture

Whether informal or part of a structured program, mentoring can showcase a strong workplace culture. Mentoring reinforces the workplace culture because it allows employees to see practical examples of the expectations within the organization.

Successful mentoring programs can lead to almost 90% of mentees going on to mentor others, which clearly contributes to a culture of learning.

Support Hybrid-Work Environment

Mentoring can elevate the development of talent, especially in virtual or hybrid work workplaces. Managers may not see an employee struggling. Whereas mentoring can teach employees, particularly new hires, how and when they should ask for help.


Informal mentoring can be inadvertently exclusive or elitist, with people choosing to mentor individuals they see themselves in. As a result of these biases, many companies choose to establish formal mentoring programs in order to give employees equal opportunity to develop. A University of Cornell study showed that formal mentorship programs can boost the representation of black, Hispanic, and Asian Americans in managerial levels by up to 24%.

Meaningful Mentoring

Rather than just running more external team-building or training sessions, mentoring allows you to look inward and harness the people and the skills you already have. Mentoring develops employees, builds connections, and helps organizations strengthen their talent pipelines.


Samantha Harwood