Business consulting and mentoring are two main processes that are intended to guide clients in making smarter decisions. While the goal of consulting and mentoring are the same, there are quite a few differences in terms of their approach and execution. With business consulting, the focus is more on short-term, task-based processes while business mentoring is more of a long-term connection between the mentor and the client.
The question now is, what’s the difference between a business consultant and a business mentor? In this article, we’ll be discussing a couple of distinctions between the two so that you can hire the right person for your career.
Length of relationship
A successful mentorship requires a level of trust between the mentor and mentee. This trust takes time to build and is one of the reasons why mentoring lasts for about 6 months to 1 year. During this period, the mentor learns more about their mentee and vice versa. This helps to facilitate the collaborative effort required to make the mentorship more effective.
As they progress with the mentorship, the mentor imparts a bit of life skill coaching into the process as well. They introduce their mentee to their colleagues to help expand their network and the sharing of knowledge becomes more personal.
Consulting, on the other hand, is often viewed as a short-term relationship between the consultant and the client. The process involves ironing out specific problems that are either task-based or project-based. This type of business relationship is more suited to clients who are looking to address specific problems with the help of quick, professional advice.
Once the problem has been addressed, the relationship between the consultant and the client ends.
Goals and objectives
A consultant’s job is to provide expert knowledge to their clients in hopes of improving profitability, management, efficiency, and operations. They pull information from their industry experience and success to better optimise their client’s performance. The client applies this newfound knowledge to enhance their skills and work towards addressing the problems that are hindering them from achieving their goals.
While the same thing can be said with mentoring, the approach is more personal in a sense that the business mentor essentially “takes his mentee under his wing”. The objectives of a business mentorship are to support the mentee’s growth and help them carve their own path.
A business consultant takes a formal structure in tackling work-related issues. Specific agendas are discussed with each meeting to monitor the client’s progress and provide feedback when necessary. Think of consulting as more of a professionally-inclined process than mentoring which is slightly casual in nature.
A business mentor, on the other hand, tackles the mentorship in an informal manner, one that is akin to giving advice to a friend or family member. Their main concerns are to support their mentee’s career growth and provide individually tailored advice.
Because business mentors have a personal connection with their mentees, they need prior knowledge about their client’s current work-life balance. They should also possess the necessary experience and wisdom to guide their mentees in making smarter business decisions. This experience comes with years or even decades of learning and exposure from the industry they’re working in.
A consultant, being less personally involved, need not be experienced in the same line of work as the client unless the consulting is skill-specific. The organization’s/client’s goals and objectives need to be fulfilled and that is the area of expertise one looks for in a consultant: Knowledge on how to improve the efficiency of the business.
So which one do you need: Business Consultant or Business Mentor?
If your company employs a lot of talented professionals and sales are not up to the mark, consumer’s expectations are not being met on time and there is a general lack of competency in a specific area, then it is appropriate that you hire a Business Consultant. They will scrutinize the different problems that are ailing your business and guide the employees to increase their efficiency. Business Consultants are also required when a new system or program is introduced into the workplace or when an official requires training in acquiring a new skill with added responsibility.
On the other hand, Business Mentors are often needed for new recruits and hence require assistance in both personal and work-life balance. The mentors assist the company in retaining the knowledge and expertise of its employees by passing it on to the new recruits through the mentoring.
In conclusion, it can be said that Consulting and Mentoring are not the same. Each has a specific area of application and their methods of implementation are also different. Though their ultimate goal is to improve the business as a whole, one is a two-way beneficial relationship where the mentor shares knowledge and experience and gives advice, and the other focuses more on the business performance and how to improve it.