Both terms are processes that enable individuals or even corporate clients to achieve full potential. Although the terms are often used in the same sentences there are differences as well as similarities between the two. It is true that both are used to facilitate the exploration of needs, skills, motivations and thought processes. They are both designed to assist the individual or organisation in making lasting and tangible change. As mentioned previously there are differences between the two and here I have highlighted a number of them. Coaches do not need to have first- hand experience of the coachee’s line of work.
In contrast mentoring is normally where a more experienced individual who has knowledge and skill in the same field of work is paired with a less experienced person. To explain this further I have included definitions of both: Coaching is… “A process that enables learning and development to occur and thus performance to improve. To be a successful a Coach requires a knowledge and understanding of process as well as the variety of styles, skills and techniques that are appropriate to the context in which the coaching takes place” Eric Parsloe
Mentoring is… “off-line help by one person to another in making significant transitions in knowledge, work or thinking” Clutterbuck, D and Megginson, D. As a line manager I could use coaching techniques either in a formal setting or a more ad hoc way to successfully develop individuals within my team. The role of a mentor is one that does not normally have line management responsibility for the mentee. In regard to the process, a Coach asks probing and often thought provoking questions and would not normally offer advice/guidance.
A mentor on the other hand can provide guidance, taking a more directive approach. – Questioning techniques will often facilitate the individuals own thought processes in order to identify their own solutions and actions rather than been directed in an approach. This in turn encourages the individual’s commitment to their own development, change and growth. There can be a number of barriers to effective coaching for individuals and organisations. There can be a lack of understanding of the benefits of coaching and what coaching can achieve.
There can be the perception about the validity of coaching and cost-effectiveness by senior managers and team members and questions being raised in relation to the actual benefits of coaching. Businesses may not prioritise any implementation of coaching as part of their overall learning and development strategy. Therefore not ensuring that it is part of the wider change needed to implement coaching as part of the workplace. With organisations not seeing the value to the business. Organisational culture which can be full of red tape and process does can add additional barriers to embedding coaching practice into the workplace.
Coaching is a process to allow individuals to work out issues for themselves rather than be told what and how to do something. If the existing leadership style is one which focuses on short term results and a culture of individual achievements it may not consider the benefits of supporting and improving practice in all. The lack of vision may stifle the development of underperformers and even good performers to improve further. The lack of longer term investment could restrict longer term sustainable performance. The organisation, managers and individuals could all see that coaching is something that is just for underperformers.
The example needs to be set from the top down and at times senior managers are reluctant to utilise the strengths of their staff as the coaches themselves. There are many benefits to introducing coaching to an organisation. With one key benefit being an increase in performance. It can promote self-reliance, self-confidence, self-awareness and learning for individuals. It is proven that to be an effective method of self-development, which in turn promotes higher performance throughout the organisation. However, more interestingly mentoring can be used to increase diversity within organisations, this can create higher levels of management
opportunities for underrepresented groups, such as female employees. A study conducted in the USA by Ragins has proven that women have benefitted by a coaching approach cited a wide range of benefits for themselves as well as their organisation. This has included recruitment, retention of staff as well as increased productivity and a stabilising factor during change, support with succession planning and encouragement of knowledge sharing, providing a greater transfer of skills across the organisation. The skills, behaviours, attitudes, beliefs and values of the coach or mentor.
I think it is safe to say that the coach has several roles to perform; with the main objective being to develop the person being coached. This can be achieved by increasing self-confidence, identifying relevant and suitable topics for coaching as well as agreeing the setting of suitable planned tasks to support the learning process. Coaches need to have certain skills and knowledge to undertake the role. In my opinion a coach needs to be patient, supportive, interested, aware of others as well as self, attentive and perceptive.
Such elements underpin effective coaching and a genuine interest in the person being coached. Coaches need to have excellent interpersonal skills and there are various core skills that individuals should have in order to be effective. These will include; formulating effective questioning techniques. Followed by the ability to listen. A coach who has good listening skills will demonstrate this in a number of ways. Rephrasing and reflecting on the individual’s words but the tone of voice, body language and even use of silence are all powerful in their own right.
Creating rapport, paying attention to content and process, keeping an open mind as well as identifying limiting assumptions and beliefs are all linked to providing a supportive and safe environment for both coach and coachee. Furthermore the ability to give and receive feedback is also an important component. It is not just the coach that needs to be effective the coachee also needs to play a vitally important role in establishing a positive coaching relationship. This includes indentifying a suitable topic(s) for coaching, jointly setting realistic performance targets and creative methods of achieving them.
They must also take responsibility for their own development, this can include taking preparations before coaching meetings to maximise the development process. Be open and honest in their approach and accept constructive feedback on skill acquisition and their development progress. There are huge benefits to the coachee from an effective coaching relationship. It helps improve their performance and their effective use of skills and abilities. It can also help to increase job satisfaction and motivation. Leading to increased self esteem and abilities within their role.
However, the relationship also has advantages for the coach. These advantages can include improved communication, increased staff development, more effective delegation and their teams reaching higher levels of achievement. There are boundaries that need to be in place in order to work within a safe and structured manner. In the initial stages of the coaching relationship it is imperative that the coach and the coachee establish boundaries This requires the coach and coachee to work together to determine exactly what the coaching relationship is and what the objectives of the sessions should be.
Research conducted by Kenton and Moody (2001) found that there was mixed response when asking whether coaches saw a distinction between mentoring, counselling and coaching. Some stated that they made it very clear to the coachee that this was not counselling session or relationship. However, others stated they would allow the discussion and relationship to be directed by the coachee. What is evident is that before the coaching relationship starts the two individuals need to establish directly what is expected and define the boundaries of their relationship.
Not only does the coach need good communication skills they also need to be aware of and manage issues around any perceived power imbalances or differences in values between them. To be aware of your own values and boundaries is important and to be able to recognise those of the coachee is also important to establish a safe environment in order to undertake the coaching sessions. Some of the coaching process can be managed through ensuring and agreeing confidentiality boundaries, having a working agreement and having set review and evaluation points, including objectives set by the individual to bring back to the next coaching session.
The role of contracting and the process to effectively coach and mentor Although there are a number of different models used within the coaching environment The GROW Model is one of the best known and widely used coaching models. It provides a simple yet powerful framework for navigating a route through a coaching session, as well as providing a means of finding your way when lost. It is a simple model and can be used effectively by coaches with little coaching experience. With the key principles focusing on awareness and responsibility. GROW is an acronym for
Goal ; The goal of the conversation or the issue to be resolved. Reality: What the problem or issue is actually about, what is happening? Options: What are the choices available to the coachee to help resolve the issue? Wrap up (or Will): what is the commitment to change? Firstly, a session must have a Goal or outcome to be achieved. The goal should be as specific as possible and it must be possible to measure whether it has been achieved. So, having identified the goal, questions like “How will you know that you have achieved that goal?
” And had responses this will enable the process to move on. As well as knowing where you are trying to get to, you need to know where you are starting from – This is the Current Reality. This is a key part to the session and it is this that can give clarity to what the issue is allowing for a resolution to be found. Options is the next step, and it is here where the coach and coachee are able to explore what Options there are to resolve the issue brought to the session. The “W” is often taken to stand for a number of other elements of a session, all of which are important.
Myles Downey in his book “Effective Coaching” suggests it stands for “Wrap-up”; others have it standing for Will or What, Where, Why, When and How. But whatever is emphasised, the desired outcome from this stage is a commitment to action. Although the GROW process has been shown sequentially. In practice, it is a much less linear process which may start anywhere and revisit each of the stages several times. Following this model or any others designed to support coach and coachee gives structure and guidance to follow the process of a successful coaching session(s).
To help underpin the model process chosen by the coach agreeing a contract between coach and coachee is imperative. There are two forms of contract, Formal and informal. Formal contracting helps to agree in advance the number of sessions to be undertaken as well as other important aspects of the coaching agenda. Such as the purpose of the sessions for self, organisation and coach. The coaching goals, length of sessions, confidentiality, responsibilities for again, coach, coachee and organisation. Feedback to coachee and feedback to others, including line manager if coaching has been agreed for development needs.
Time and timekeeping. It is Ok to use part of the first session to look at the contract or to agree them prior to the first session. As well as formal coaching sessions, when time and agenda are agreed it is possible to use a less formal approach to coaching. The session could be as little as 10 mins long and part of a wider discussion when an individual is seeking clarification. Even though an informal coaching session needs less contracting, never the less objectives need to be identified and an “end point” needs to be agreed. Such as a designated amount of time to be agreed by coach and coachee.
Although the primary relationship in any coaching activity is between the coach and the individual, this is not the only important relationship. Other key stakeholders include the person representing the organisation’s interests – possibly HR and the individual’s manager. Both of these are interested in improving the individual’s performance and therefore their contribution to the organisation. When there are others with investment in a series of coaching sessions either for an individual or as part of the organisations desire to improve and sustain outputs.
It is very important to establish guidelines on confidentiality and information sharing early on to develop trust between the individual and coach, and the other multiple stakeholders. Ensuring that boundaries and confidentiality issues are agreed early provides all with a safe environment in which to work, grow and develop, not just individuals but the organisational culture. Often organisations use coaching models after an identification of some kind of learning or development need, either by the individual themselves or their line manager.
Once this has been identified, the next step is for the manager and the individual to decide how best the need can be met. Coaching is just one of a range of training and development interventions that organisations can use to meet identified learning and development needs. Its merits should be considered alongside other types of development interventions, such as training courses, mentoring or on-the-job training. Employee preferences should also be borne in mind. There is a danger that coaching can be seen as a solution for all kinds of development needs. It is
important that coaching is only used when it is genuinely seen as the best way of helping an individual learn and develop. Coaching supervision is a relatively new activity and little has been written about it. In the last two years, however, definitions have begun to emerge. these include: ‘Supervision sessions are a place for the coach to reflect on the work they are undertaking, with another more experienced coach. It has the dual purpose of supporting the continued learning and development of the coach, as well as giving a degree of protection to the person being coached’ (Bluckert 2004).
‘Coaching supervision is a formal process of professional support, which ensures continuing development of the coach and effectiveness of his/her coaching practice through interactive reflection, interpretative evaluation and the sharing of expertise’ (Bachkirova, Stevens and Willis 2005). ‘the process by which a coach, with the help of a supervisor, can attend to understanding better both the client system and themselves as part of the client–coach system, and by so doing transform their work and develop their craft’ (Hawkins and Smith 2006). these definitions agree that: Supervision is a formal process.
It is interpersonal, and can be undertaken one-toone, in groups or in peer groups. Reflection on client work is central to supervision. Its goals include developing greater coaching competence. Utilising supervision for coaches with more experienced coaches allows for individual personal development and allows three main aspects of qualitative work, development role and a resourcing function. Understand the principles of effective coaching and mentoring in practice and how to evaluate benefits To conclude I understand that coaching is not teaching. Although it does involve the sharing of information or experiences.
Coaches need to develop their own set of coaching principles which can be shared with the coaches. Boundaries and working agreements need to be set in order to clarify how the two individuals will work together. Confidentiality needs to be explicit as well as both parties understanding the limits to this confidentiality. To ensure a duty of care to the client as well as being bound to the legal issues of codes of ethics, as well as the individual organisations policies and procedures. Boundaries also need to be set in relation to their roles outside of the coaching sessions.
Time and place – when and where meetings are to take place and for agreed timings. Ongoing reviews – This can involve continual clarification of the role of the coaching sessions and what they involve. The understanding that the obligation of tasks is on the coachee. Ending the coaching sessions is the responsibility of the coach who needs to manage the end of the agreed number of sessions to avoid dependency from the coach. Time limited number of sessions is an appropriate way of managing the end as it avoids the risk of coachees becoming dependant or the feeling of being rejected.
Organisations use coaching to support its objectives. By evaluating coaching results the organisation is able to have a clear indication of the results achieved. However, evaluation can only be done if the coaching goals are established at the early stages of such an intervention. When coaching sessions are more formal then there should be a review stage incorporated into the process. This could include a three way meeting with individuals line manger or organisational representative, especially if they have been involved in teh objectives originally set. There are a number of evaluation methods used in coaching.
This allows for evaluation of individuals thoughts on coaching. However it is also important that the organisation is able to see tangible results. Return on Investment can be useful to understand how longer term projects and for those producing tangible results such as sales and outputs. Return on Expectation takes into account of soft skills, such as behaviour change, interperonsal benefits. These can be highlighted when asking individuals to undertake exit surveys as well as other more tangible results such as the reduction in sick leave.
Kirkpatrick discusses four levels of evaluation these look at both the individual and organisational benefits: these are: Reaction learning, behaviour and results. In conclusion, coaching is a method which can be used as a stand – alone investment or one that is linked to other organisational strategies to enable personal and organisational transitions. Coaching is a process and a tool used to motivate and inspire. Effective coaching allows the individual to explore what works for them and how they are able to be more effective within their organisation.