There are important similarities between supervision and mentoring but also some significant differences. The following summary is fleshed out a little more on a new handout from our Mentor Equipping Training.
- Mentoring is more whole of life focussed than supervision which is typically oriented to the professional practitioner’s functioning.
- Mentoring sits comfortably with working toward developmental goals, supervision is usually focussed more on the here and now, understanding the dynamics in leadership transactions and providing insight on current situations and challenges.
- Supervision is typically independent of gender and it often helps to have a supervisor of a different gender as their insights can be helpful. As the mentoring relationship usually permits self-disclosure on the part of the mentor, cross gender mentoring raises extra challenges for the relationship and is usually not encouraged.
- Supervision is often a systemic requirement and the relationship may have systemic expectations around reporting, confidentiality and commitment. Mentoring is usually purely at the instigation of the person seeking mentoring and operates outside of a systemic structure.