Interest in and application of coaching and mentoring in organizations has evolved dramatically as methods of personal, career and management growth, have tremendously advanced. Both processes are more common and widespread in professional areas and have been subject to increased academic and professional writing and research, which indicates many issues and problems, along with features of successful practice that need to be carefully considered when using these techniques and procedures (Garvey et al., 2017). This unit provides a definition of coaching and mentoring, differentiating between the two and stressing the need to link with the overall strategic learning and development plan. It looks at those usually responsible for coaching, both internal as well as external to an organization, and how to build a culture of coaching. Deciding when coaching is the ideal tool for learning is crucial to harnessing its potential. Finally, the course takes into account the pivotal role that line managers and people professionals play in coordinating coaching and mentoring practices.
Research and writing reflect many unanswered questions concerning current practices and, thus, this unit adopts an evidence-based approach to allow the development of the intellectual, social and professional skills required to design, implement and practice coaching and mentoring programs and services in workplace settings and their implementation to support personal and performance growth (Ulrich et al., 2015). It promotes questioning of simplistic as well as prescriptive coaching and mentoring accounts, in order to build a critical understanding and knowledge of the potential and drawbacks of coaching and mentoring models, structures and related theories. It also discusses the consequences for professional practice and allows learners to reflect objectively from an ethical and professional perspective, on theory and practice, which offers opportunities for applied learning as well as continued professional growth.
Upon completing this unit, a learner should be able to:
Coaching and mentoring can be looked at as development approaches based on the application of one-to-one conversations to improve the abilities, knowledge, or work performance of an individual. Coaching is aimed at achieving maximum efficiency and development on the job. It focuses on specific skills and goals although it can also influence the personal qualities of an individual such as socializing or confidence (Garvey et al., 2017). Typically, the process lasts for a given period of time or forms the foundation for an ongoing style of management. While coaching professionals do not agree on specific definitions, there are some widely accepted coaching characteristics in organizations. These characteristics include: coaching as a non-directive type of development; it is centered on performance improvement and individual growth; it can include personal factors but the focus is on workplace performance; coaching practices have both organizational as well as individual objectives; it gives people the opportunity to better appraise their strengths and their areas of development; it’s a skilled activity which people who are qualified to do so should deliver-this could be line managers and others trained in coaching competencies (Ulrich et al., 2015).
Mentoring at the workplace often describes a relationship in which a colleague with more expertise shares their greater knowledge to facilitate the advancement of an inexperienced staff member. It calls on questioning, listening, explaining and reframing skills, which are often synonymous with coaching (Garvey et al., 2017). A key distinction is that relationships of mentoring are often longer than arrangements to coach. For example, in a succession planning situation, a regional finance director may be mentored over a long time by a group-level colleague to establish a sound approach to working with the board, presenting analysts and questioning departmental budgets. Mentoring relationships work effectively when they move past a senior colleague’s ‘tell it as it is’ directive approach to one where both of them learn from each other (Garvey et al., 2017). A successful mentoring partnership is a learning opportunity for both parties, facilitating intergenerational sharing and learning, and/or among roles.
This unit discusses the development of cultures of coaching and provides guidance to practitioners to further improve their approach to organizations. Considering a variety of ‘phases’ which are all driven by organizational context is critical. These phases include: the organizational strategy, how the organization positions itself in the industry and market, the priorities that the organization has, and who facilitates coaching and mentoring (Ulrich et al., 2015). Upon addressing these phases, practitioners can focus on the practical aspects of working through who delivers the coaching as well as how to implement it.
Coaching can be provided by staff members or by external coaches. Organizations typically use coaching as a daily management practice, integrated in one-to-one meetings and discussions about performance. Given the power dynamic and the necessity of some distance and neutrality in the coaching relationship, a challenge that often arises is how effectively managers are able to coach their own staff (Ulrich et al., 2015). Coaching can be a challenging task for internal as well as external coaches. Coaching personnel need structured opportunities to reflect on their work, either in one-to-one sessions or group sessions (Garvey et al., 2017). These prospects can provide support and assist coaches to develop their skills continuously, while they can also serve as an important organizational quality assurance practice and a source of organizational learning about the issues discussed in coaching sessions. Where there is a mixture of coaching roles, it may be beneficial if both internal and external coaches share supervisory arrangements and have opportunities to generally discuss coaching (Ulrich et al., 2015). In the implementation phase, it is also important to develop guidelines on confidentiality and information flow in order to build trust between an individual and their coach as well as other stakeholders.
It is vital to consider how coaching is related to overall learning and development strategies. Coaching is seen as one of the most effective approaches, as are in-house development programs, which typically include a significant coaching element. Coaching, however, is just one of a variety of interventions that can be used by organizations to address identified needs for learning and development (Garvey et al., 2017). Its merits need to be weighed along with other forms of development interventions. The interests of employees also play a part. There is a possibility that coaching can be seen as a solution to all kinds of needs for development, whereas it must only be utilized when it is precisely seen as the best way to help a person learn and develop (Ulrich et al., 2015). Some examples of instances in which coaching is an effective development tool include: Helping qualified technical experts build better interpersonal skills, cultivating the individual’s ability and providing career support, and addressing the effect of change in an individual’s role.
Garvey, R., Garvey, B., Stokes, P., & Megginson, D. (2017). Coaching and mentoring: Theory and practice. Sage.
Ulrich, D., Brockbank, W., Ulrich, M., and Kryscynski, D. (2015). Toward a Synthesis of HR Competency Models: The Common HR” Food Groups.