Organisational Development

Distinction between mentoring and management

It is important to recognise the clear distinction between mentoring and management or supervision.

Mentoring versus management or coaching

In mentoring, the mentee drives the agenda. The mentor listens and facilitates discussion to support the mentee in developing new ideas and perspectives, but does not seek to influence the mentee to a particular course of action. The objectives and actions the mentee generates from mentoring discussions are their own and are not directed by the mentor.

In management or supervision, the manager will have a greater degree of influence over the course of action their employee takes. The manager or supervisor might set tasks or objectives for the individual or they may develop these collaboratively. The manager or supervisor will likely be reliant on the successful completion of objectives for the overall benefit of the project, team or organisation.

In short, mentoring discussions focus on the professional development of the mentee; management or supervision discussions will generally focus on operations and the work performance of the employee.

Dr Natasha Sigala on coaching and mentoring

Mentoring staff that you manage or supervise

Many managers and supervisors benefit from developing and using mentoring skills within the workplace. However, if mentoring an individual that you also line manage it can be more challenging to remain objective, non-directive and to ensure that the mentee drives the agenda.

It is important to ensure that information learned in mentoring discussions does not influence work related processes (e.g. progression or performance management). For these reasons, it is usually advisable to establish mentoring relationships outside the usual line management or supervisory chains.

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Organisational Development
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