Boards Must Invest in Mentoring & Coaching

Coaching and mentoring can be one of the most effectual programmes for management, and potential talent, development. It can also be one of the most cost-effective performance improvement tools, if managed properly. Four out of five CEOs have said that a mentor has proved a valuable source to their success in progressing their career.

By developing the skills and capabilites of managers and directors, businesses strengthen their ability to realise the objectives outlined in their business strategy and organisational performance.

There is however, confusion by some directors in what the difference is between coaching and mentoring, or how it should be managed. Without support from development specialists who are experienced and qualified in talent development, this is understandable. So I will try to provide some clarity on the subject.

  Coaching Mentoring
Aim To focus on work activity(s) and performance.

To focus on building capability.

Objectives Coach sets the objectives for the coachee to work to. Mentor supports and works with the mentee to achieve their own goals.
Format Provides constructive feedback on observed performance and recommends actions needed to improve. Helps the learner to discover their own solution, that empowers and builds confidence to manage.
Relationship Usually short-term, for specific task, with learning being one-way from the coach. Usually long-term, often establishing as a friendship, with learning being a two-way relation, where the mentor may also learn.

A good coach and mentor has to work in the best interest of the recipient, by giving their own time to support and develop the individual. Mutual trust and openness is also necessary, in order to establish a good relationship that will sustain through difficult or uncomfortable situations, and will achieve the desired objectives. 

Where the coach should be experienced in order to provide constructive feedback on the performance of a task or activities; a mentor may not necessarily posses experience in a specific industry or specific role but has the wisdom to empower the mentee to take charge of their own development and career progression.

Coaching or mentoring is not about sorting out personal problems or providing therapy. Nor should the learner be shielded from mistakes made, indeed this is one of the best ways of learning. From the start of the relationship, clear expectations need to be established and agreed between both parties.

For the individual being supported, they have to be willing to listen and learn from their coach or mentor, and keep a learning-log in which they can reflect, plan how they can prevent any mistakes made from re-occurring, what they found particularly frustrating or challenging and what steps can be taken to overcome this in the future.

Personal development, whether coaching or mentoring is not a standardised process but has to be tailored to the individual’s need.

If a good relationship has been established from the start, and has remained focused throughout the learning, the objectives will be successfully achieved with the relationship remaining positive long after.

Lack of, or no development provided by organisations is one of the top reasons why employees leave their employer - 27% want more opportunity for training and development, with 59% wanting more opportunity for progression.

So it is clearly apparent, that it is in the best interest for businesses to invest in the development of their people.