Coaching involves teaching an individual a specific thing (i.e. skill, lesson, concept, etc.). A coach is someone who works with an individual for a specific reason, such as to change the individuals work habits, how to perform a specific task, etc. Essentially, when the task or item has been taught the coaches role is completed, unless ongoing coaching is planned.
A mentor is someone who works closely with an individual. They serve as more of a role model than a coach does, they demonstrate behaviors that the individual should be learning from, and they position the individual in a way where they become visible to the right people at the right time to display their talents.
Both are important in business. Some individuals need coaching prior to being mentored and some people do not want to be mentored. If the individual is not receptive to being either coached or mentored, then attempts at either are futile. Some companies embrace one, both, or neither. Creating a culture that welcomes both coaching and mentoring will help increase employee morale, decrease employee (and customer) turnover, and will enable the company to grow beyond its current position in the market.
Does your company embrace either? Have you had the opportunity to coach or mentor, or be coached or mentored?