Business Coach, Business Mentor or Business Adviser – What do I need?

  • 14 May 2015
  • By Alan Jones
  • Read in 7 Minutes

Tags: advising, business advice, business adviser, Business Coach, Business Coaching, business Mentor, coaching, mentoring

Business Coach, Business Mentor or Business Adviser – What do I need?

After attending a recent networking event and introducing myself as a “Business Adviser” it became clear that there is a real lack of clarity between the role of a Coach, Mentor and Adviser.

During the event I was referred to as many things – a business coach, a business mentor, a business adviser and the guy who can help your business grow! So that got me thinking, in the business world do people see a difference in these disciplines, are there fundamental differences between the three or is the nature of what they do so alike that the names are interchangeable?

Has the industry allowed this lack of clarity to occur as even we find it hard to distinguish between the three roles?

So here is my take on the differences to allow more clarity and detail to help you make the right decisions on fulfilling your needs as a business owner.

Coaching – is very task focused, they seek to develop and increase competency in an agreed skill or area of knowledge that the coachee requires, by helping the coachee solve the problem through coaching it out of them. A coach does not direct, tell or instruct. It’s a formal short-term contract normally over 6-10 sessions to develop a skill or bridge the knowledge GAP from within .

The main purpose of coaching is to improve an individual’s performance on the job or within a task. Once the skills have been acquired successfully the coaching is no longer needed. There are many coaching methods and theories that a coach will implement to achieve the desired outcomes. Myles Downey describes Coaching as non-directive – PULL – helping someone solve his or her own problem, the coach taps into the coachee through questioning, reflection, listening and paraphrasing – never telling.

Coaching fosters the individual to resolve and answer there own short comings on specific areas of performance & skill, so they have a much better understanding after the session and less dependence on the coach.

Mentoring – by contrast is relationship orientated, and very directive. The role of the mentor is to offer experienced advice from a position of expertise and authority. Mentoring is more open and generalist by nature and the mentor has all the advice and knowledge. It’s not focused on a particular area or skill and topics can be varied. The mentee has a higher dependence on the mentor, which is why these relationships tend to last longer. A mentor provides occasional advice when the mentee requests it

Unlike coaching, mentoring can happen in any environment it does not have to happen face to face and is often opportunistic, a passing chat on a stairwell, and a quick coffee in the canteen or a chance meeting at the mentors office. The mentor is more accessible for a quick fix, a simple phone call or even an email. The contracting relationship is grey with no clear goals or expectations on outcomes.

Mentors do not normally receive compensation for their services; they provide the service out of generosity of spirit, and they want to give something back. The mentor also has an opportunity to learn from the relationship as they can gain new perspectives and a renewed sense of their own abilities and expertise. Mentors thrive of the satisfaction that they have assisted another person in developing both professionally and personally.

Advising – is a long term relationship providing high level advice and confidence. Advisors are chosen because of track record and have earned the right to give advice based on their experience and expertise. A good adviser lends weight and credibility to the company; they take a holistic approach and tend to work with the owner or MD of the business to help them achieve there desired goals.

A good adviser will be a sounding board for the business owner to talk through issues; they transfer knowledge and confidence so that the business owner can grow their business themselves; they will help the business owner prioritise actions in an action plan; and they will most definitely hold the business owners accountable.

An adviser will advise and guide, review and correct, and above all keep you on track. An adviser has a distinct advantage over a mentor and a coach as they can choose the delivery style. When appropriate an adviser can also coach and mentor, but a coach would never advise…

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