As an HR Consultant I’ve observed first hand how important coaching and mentoring can be to a new professional. Simply put; a great leader or manager needs a good mentor/coach to help guide them and teach them the right things they need to do to reach their full potential. Coaching and mentoring go both ways. It provides an excellent opportunity for an HR Professional to provide leadership, develop themselves, gain greater insight into the company’s structure and practices, and enhance employee engagement through communication. Mentoring, then, is part of the overall package of Human Resources Consultants that helping the organization get the most from the diverse talent it has to offer.
So how do coaching and mentoring differ? How can one provide leadership, develop leaders, encourage people’s growth, and improve productivity while tackling the underlying issues that are holding back change? These techniques are an essential ingredient in building your team, not just in terms of bringing in new talent, but in terms of sustaining that team’s productivity and effectiveness. While mentoring covers all the aspects of leadership, such as strategy and vision, and building an inspiring work environment, coaching focuses on processes and tools to deal with particular organisational issues. Coaching can be applied at all levels, from the frontlines to management and beyond, and can be applied to any organisational setting anywhere in the organisation or globally.
A two-day workshop on leadership development for your entire team sounds like a bit of a downer. You may even have to take time off work for this type of “get-together”. A weekly or monthly leadership development meeting, meanwhile, allows your senior management to evaluate how your staff are progressing and can help identify any bottlenecks in your process.
Mentoring, on the other hand, involves one-on-one contact with a junior-level employee. For example, you can talk through the installation of new computer software or discuss ways to use your HR department to streamline operations. This type of one-on-one tutoring is often used by smaller organisations, as they don’t have the resources to support a long-term project. It also helps employees who might be hesitant to express their own ideas.
Both mentoring programmes focus on skills acquisition.
The difference is that in coaching you give detailed, practical advice, whereas in mentoring, you provide specific skills. Coaches will implement specific skills workshops, deliver relevant feedback, and act as intermediaries between employees and managers. They will build on the basic skills identified during the processes of each individual employee and integrate them into a coherent programme of action for a specific individual.
Most organisations have a succession plan in place, and it is often incorporated as part of their overall succession planning process. However, many firms tend to put this process off until the last minute, believing that any gaps in skills and knowledge will inevitably be filled by experienced professionals. In the meantime, they are paying for it through lower productivity, higher stress levels, and an increase in the potential for costly mistakes. It’s clear that mentoring relationships can be a much cheaper and more efficient way to close the gap and one of the reasons why they are increasingly used in the workplace.
When approaching a candidate to undergo coaching, or seeking a suitable candidate for a mentorship role, it’s important to establish clearly what the purpose of the relationship is. Ideally, both parties (the coach and the mentee) want the benefit of the coaching relationship, but this is not always the case, so it’s important to specify what the outcome needs to be to ensure that both parties get something out of it. Once this has been determined, candidates and coaches can start to identify how they will go about developing that relationship, like board portals for nonprofits.
One of the most common ways of going about it is through therapeutic intervention.
A range of different therapies, from interpersonal coaching and mentoring to skills and leadership development and career counseling, can be applied to an individual over a period of time in order to create lasting positive changes. During the therapy process, the coach and mentor will be able to identify the reasons why the individual may be lacking in certain areas, and develop coaching and mentoring skills in those areas, providing a valuable source of support and guidance for the mentee. By doing this, rather than hiring the first professional coach who comes along, organisations are less likely to make costly mistakes in the process, and can move on with their lives, instead of spending valuable time and resources implementing a mentor and coaching relationship that may not work in the future.