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Mentoring and coaching are often confused. In the Peer Bulletin, Rey Carr, a Victoria-based consultant, notes that coaching is seen as more of a professional relationship while mentoring is more personal.

He sets out four characteristics of mentoring:

It's about lessons for life: With mentoring, you learn things that you might not have learned on your own or that might have taken you much longer to construe. While the lessons have some impact now, mentoring is really about developing a person's character and ability to grow. Coaching is more for the immediate future.

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It's about relationships: The essence of any mentoring relationship is the relationship itself, which determines if the mentoring will be successful. Trust, rapport and caring are important in coaching but the relationship dynamic is not the same.

It's about paying forward. Mentoring is a gift, and usually the person will pay it back by mentoring someone else. This is what helps mentoring grow exponentially throughout society. Coaching is a more transactional situation.

It's about mutuality. In mentoring, both partners usually gain significantly from the relationship. And as it develops, the partners can become more equal, to the point it might be difficult to determine who the mentor is and who is the mentee. Coaching is more one-way.

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About the Author
Management columnist

Harvey Schachter is a Kingston, Ont.-based writer specializing in management issues. He writes Monday Morning Manager and management book reviews for the print edition of Report on Business and an online column, Power Points. More

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