How Coaching and Mentoring Works:
The Benefits of Using a Coach or Mentor
The current trend is for an increase in coaching and mentoring
in the workplace.
Coaching and mentoring, whether on an executive level or for
overall staff, are increasingly being recognised as important
in employee development. It is acknowledged by senior management
in many organisations that their company will thrive if they
offer some form of coaching and mentoring to their staff.
We are particularly aware at how much this trend for coaching
and mentoring has grown in the UK, as this is where most of
our clients are based.
We work with companies who automatically assign a mentor to
new employees, some who leave it up to the employee to seek
out a coach for themselves, some who don't or won't see the
advantage of having coaches for their people and just about
everything in between.
Fortunately, many more companies are giving their people an
understanding of the benefits of coaching and mentoring, of
which there are many, and more people are training and acquiring
qualifications in coaching and mentoring than ever before.
What Coaching and Mentoring Training is available?
People can get a professional qualification in coaching and
mentoring, a certificate in coaching and mentoring; there
are many courses offering training in coaching development,
creative mentoring, career coaching, face to face training,
on-line training, workplace mentoring, becoming a coaching
and mentoring consultant, building a coaching network, business
approaches to coaching and mentoring, distance learning, management
mentoring, staff coaching, in house training courses, 'out'
house training courses. There are basic courses and advanced
coaching and mentoring training and qualifications.
The list truly is endless!
It seems as though everyone from business schools to the corner
shop is getting on the coaching and mentoring bandwagon.
This isn't a bad thing.
How do I know what to do?
The only problem is that for someone who has never used a
coach or mentor before, it can all be very confusing.
For those who want to train to become a coach or mentor, the
choices can seem daunting: 'Where do I begin?'
For companies who want to initiate a coaching and mentoring
programme, they want reassurance of the tangible benefits
and return on their investment.
What we aim to do here is to give you a brief overview, understanding
and insight into just exactly what coaching and mentoring
means, some coaching and mentoring theory and to give our
view on what it takes to be a good coach or mentor.
Coaching and Mentoring overview
Is there a difference between Coaching and Mentoring?
We're going to cop out here and say there probably can't be
a definitive answer to this. The two terms seem to be increasingly
linked and are often used interchangeably.
These happen to be our definitions, but we're sure you'll
find a bunch of others if you look around.
Coaching: we see a business, corporate or executive
coach in much the way we see a sports coach. This person sets
specific goals and objectives, sees what you need to do to
achieve them and works with you on target setting, professional
and personal development, expansion of your skills base and
offers practical and relevant advice and guidance.
Mentoring: a mentor can almost be seen as a wise, experienced
friend or favourite aunt or uncle type person. A mentor leads
by example and is a role model. They might be very good at
helping you see the big picture and understand the politics
of the organisation you work for.
A coach can be a mentor and a mentor can be a coach, or the
role can be rolled into one. The key is that whatever term
you use, the person being coached or mentored gets unbiased
support and guidance.
Benefits of Coaching and Mentoring
When you work with a coach or mentor you will benefit in many
- Have a safe place to offload
- Develop skills you already have
- Learn new skills
- Gain insight into yourself and the people you work with
- Get unbiased, confidential support
- Gain fresh perspectives on your issues
- Get advice, suggestions and options
Coaching and Mentoring Theory
We're probably the wrong company to ask about coaching and
mentoring theory. As a matter of fact, we're not too hot on
theory since we believe that you can't pigeonhole people and
impose a template of how coaching and mentoring should look.
On one level, we suppose that you could say that having a
counselling skill is a good 'theoretical' place to start.
The principles that a good counsellor needs to have are equally
true for good coaches and mentors:
- Maintains confidentiality
- Excellent listening and responding skills
- Objective outlook
- Advises rather than tells
- Has the 'mentee's' best interests at heart
Coaching and Mentoring Development
Coaching and Mentoring Training
As we said earlier, the list is endless when it comes to 'stuff'
around coaching and mentoring. There are stacks of training
courses, programmes, qualifications, certificates and workshops
all claiming to provide you with the skills needed to become
a coach and/or mentor.
We can't say which of these is any good. There are some essentials
to look for when finding the right training for you.
- No promises about outcomes
- It shouldn't cost the earth
- It needs to have a high degree of integrity
- It should be practical and experiential
- You should feel a compatibility with the people running
- You should be given lots of individual suggestions on
how to develop yourself as a coach/mentor
- Trust your tummy! Meet up before you sign up and ask
lots of questions.
An example of someone who's 'doing it'
We can, however, give you an insight into one of the people
within Impact Factory who is a coach and mentor and the range
of skills she has which help her do the job.
Jo Ellen Grzyb, one of the founding partners, has an eclectic
background, which we believe is a good place to start when
thinking about training to become a coach and mentor.
We say this because the more experience you have, obviously,
the more you bring to the job.
Jo Ellen has worked in the business and arts communities in
one form or another, and on both sides of the Atlantic, for
30 years. She trained as a psychotherapist and ran career
development courses for a number of years before founding
Impact Factory with Robin Chandler 14 years ago.
She has had years of personal psychotherapy and has a monthly
session with her own supervisor. She has also changed careers
a number of times and has real insight into how to 'take the
plunge' and move one when something isn't working well.
She writes, appears on radio and telly.
She's a brilliant networker and isn't particularly self-deprecating
about what she can offer people.
Through all her years of experience, one consistent theme
has been her focus on enabling other people to do their work
Most importantly, she has never sat around waiting for someone
else to make it happen for her -- she's just gone and done
it, success or failure being far less important than the doing.
All of that makes her excellent in her role as a coach and
So what's the point?
Why we've given you that thumbnail sketch is that we get lots
of enquiries from people wanting to become coaches and mentors
who are looking for someone else to make it happen for them.
That ain't going to work.
If you want to train as a coach and mentor, you need to take
a good, impartial look at yourself to see if you've got what
Remember earlier we said that everyone seems to getting on
the coaching and mentoring bandwagon? Well, we feel pretty
strongly that a lot of them should get off. Having said that,
the profession is open for good, committed people.
You may be one of them.
Using a Coach or Mentor
How do I get one?
As we can see there's no shortage of people wanting to become
coaches and mentors. But what if you want to use one. Where
do you begin?
Of course, the best place to look is your workplace. If they
already have a corporate coaching and mentoring programme
that you aren't accessing, get yourself to HR ASAP and ask
to be assigned one.
You could also look around your company and identify someone
you think would make an excellent coach or mentor and ask
them if they'd be willing.
Using either a formal or informal approach is equally effective.
The key is working with someone you like, admire and with
whom you feel comfortable.
Anything else I should be aware of?
There are a few important things that will help you make the
most of your coach or mentor.
- Meet with them on a regular basis -- whether fortnightly,
monthly, quarterly, etc.
- Set clear objectives
- Rely on them for guidance, not answers
- Be honest
- A mentor isn't a dumping ground
Using a coach or mentor is one of the best ways to develop
yourself and is a great way not to have to go it alone.
Jo Ellen and Robin Chandler run Impact Factory, a
training company that provides Coaching
and Mentoring, Public Speaking, Presentation Skills, Communications
Training, Leadership Development and Executive Coaching for
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