Thirty years ago, coaching was largely used to support the transition needed with talented yet cantankerous executives. Now it is a prevalent and respected aspect of HR and management practices for supporting individuals.

Although coaching and mentoring are habitually paired together as they are both effective, supportive, learning tools, the two processes are different in their approach. However, they do have overlapping elements. The mentor, usually the more experienced colleague, uses their previous knowledge to support their less experienced mentee, resulting in a more directive approach. They can also provide specific advice. A coach, although just as dedicated to the coachee’s commitment to their goal, is usually non-directive. Instead, they assist, challenge and encourage their coachee to find their own solution.

Other distinguishing aspects include:


  • Individual oriented. The mentor and mentee need to develop good rapport.
  • Works from past knowledge and experiences or the reasons for current dissatisfaction.
  • Development-driven i.e. developing them professionally, particularly regarding their skills and their application to the specific work context.


  • Goal-oriented. Rapport is not so important, although they need to be comfortable with being open and honest.
  • Starts from the present and moves them towards their desired future goals.
  • Performance-driven i.e. more about addressing personal development areas/issues, perhaps related to behaviour, attitudes or self-awareness.

Why have a coach?

  • To help recognise where you need to develop personally and to improve current work issues. This will help you reach personal or work goals.
  • To develop your effectiveness as a leader or line manager, increasing confidence, resilience and self-awareness.
  • To work more effectively with others and to develop empathy so that you are able to view things from different perspectives and consider issues you may have ignored.
  • To assist with the transition to additional accountability or responsibility, operating and communicating at different management levels.

What does a coach do?

The coach facilitates sessions through inquiry, using the ‘see and say’ process, allowing you to consider aspects for yourself – whilst creating space for you to see the opportunities and guiding you to taking tangible steps towards those opportunities.

What to expect in a coaching session?

Sessions are: –

  • 100% Confidential.
  • You will be actively listened to – which includes; tone, pitch, pace and words, considering non-verbal responses too.
  • The coach will highlight anything that may be hindering you from reaching your goals. This could be a self-limiting belief, which may or may not be true e.g. “I always…” “I could never…” “I cannot…”
  • The coach will support you as you make changes that lead to fundamental shifts in attitudes and behaviour. For example, a change from “reacting” in any given situation – (no choice, no power, others circumstances and situations) to “directing” (creating choices, having power, to shaping yourself).
  •  Occasionally you may be asked to complete an exercise. These offer you clarity around your goals, values, strengths and weaknesses.
  • Any homework is ultimately your responsibility. Action steps are explored and agreed by you within sessions.

How much does a coaching session cost?

Coaching sessions vary in price depending on the duration and other influencing factors. It is important to realise that this is a positive investment into the rest of your life. It is much more effective than a fabulous meal out, a bottle of your favourite drink, spa treatment or holiday. All of those things, as enjoyable as they are, leave you with just wonderful memories for your money spent. With coaching the transformation that takes place will be with you every day and potentially in everything you do forever! What price would you put on that?

How to find a Coach?

Remember they do not need to be more experienced than you or ‘successful’ in your goal area. Tips:

  • Ensure you are comfortable being open and honest with them, so you can foster a deep trust and can work with them.
  • Ask them questions about their experience and qualifications in coaching. They are usually more than happy to speak with you on the phone and often offer a free no obligation introduction session.
  • Recommendations are good, especially if you trust the person recommending. However, do always check references.

“Don’t ever make a decision based on fear.
Make decisions based on hope and possibility.
Make decisions based on what should happen, not what shouldn’t.”
Michelle Obama