companies realise the benefits of coaching and mentoring for employees, the
pressure is on to convert this to the bottom line. In this fast-growing field
it will be the role of HR departments to maintain the balance between
motivating people and achieving quantifiable results
leaner organisations. Broader, more versatile management roles. Complex career
paths in place of linear progression and the security of jobs for life. These
are just some of the characteristics of the modern working world that have led
to the burgeoning popularity of mentoring and coaching. A recent CIPD survey of
800 training managers reported that 87 per cent of UK companies now utilise one
or both methods to develop their people. Even more interestingly, over half of
the respondents deemed them more effective than conventional classroom
is not that traditional training has had its day, but when it comes to
fostering creativity and tapping the unique potential of each individual,
mentoring and coaching are powerful tools. When properly managed, they can
produce outstanding results.
all about self-awareness,” says executive coach Hetty Einzig of the Sporting
Bodymind Group, whose clients include Barclays Bank, GlaxoWellcome and Jaguar.
“You can’t become really successful unless you take time to examine your own
personality – how you process information, manage your own emotions, establish
relationships, make decisions, optimise human potential. Those who reach the
top are very emotionally literate. Coaching plays a huge part in releasing
the individual reaps high rewards, the pay-off for the organisation is equally
significant. A happy, well-motivated, high-performing workforce cannot fail to
impact on the bottom line, although by exactly how much may be difficult to
measure. There is also a wealth of evidence to demonstrate that mentoring plays
a key role in retaining staff who might otherwise be tempted to jump ship, a
crucial asset in a world where talent is in short supply.
Clutterbuck, senior partner of Clutterbuck Associates and co-founder/ director
of the European Mentoring Service, cites the example of SmithKline Beecham,
whose finance department had a staff turnover of 25 per cent last year, yet
only 2 per cent of these were mentored staff. “Five-10 per cent of this may be
due to the fact that people who seek out mentors are more motivated in the
first place,” he says. “Nevertheless, the figures are impressive.”
what exactly does coaching and mentoring entail and how do you distinguish
between the two?
seem to be almost as many definitions as there are practitioners and the fact
that Europe and the US interpret the words slightly differently adds to the
confusion. The issue is further clouded by the growing popularity of executive
coaching, which shares common ground with mentoring.
speaking, however, coaching intervention targets high performance and
improvement at work, although it may also have an impact on an individual’s
private life. It usually lasts for a short period and focuses on specific
skills and goals, enabling the participant to think through issues in a
has huge potential but we tend to block ourselves,” says Sheridan Maguire of
the School of Coaching, set up by the Industrial Society and Myles Downey. “A
good coach is an excellent listener, asks astute questions and helps the
learner to make their own discoveries.”
on the other hand, revolves more around the relationship, which may last for
years, or even a lifetime. Sometimes the focus is on career development and the
mentor will have extensive experience in the mentee’s professional field. Other
mentors act in a more pastoral capacity and may not even share the same
discipline. They serve more as a combination of coach, counsellor, sounding
board and critical friend, providing a safe haven where employees can explore
issues in confidence.
you define coaching and mentoring, there is universal agreement that without
the willing consent of both parties, very little will be achieved.
Montanaro, the founder of Intuition in Business, part of Claire Montanaro &
Co, believes participation should be voluntary. “If people are reluctant, you
can try to persuade them by offering them the chance to meet one or two coaches
or mentors and see how it goes,” she says. “But if they still don’t want to do
it, they will only harbour resentment, which can be positively
the opposite side of the coin, what if the coaching or mentoring is so
inspiring it serves as a catalyst for high-flying employees to move on?
my experience, this rarely happens and when it does I believe they would have
gone anyway,” says Montanaro. “There must have been some underlying source of
dissatisfaction. If it can’t be alleviated, it is probably better they leave.”
often than not, this “underlying source of dissatisfaction” stems from an
unhappy relationship with a line manager, or from an organisational culture
that claims to espouse the values of learning, creativity and responsibility
while still operating in traditional mode.
all about control,” says Maguire. “Many managers have got where they are by
hard graft, acquiring skills, amassing knowledge, playing the system to climb
the ladder. Suddenly they are told they must no longer hold on to information,
but give it away – communicate, step back. That is quite difficult for people
steeped in the old management culture.”
can also find themselves torn between the conflicting pressures of achieving
measurable results and giving people space to develop – and maybe make
mistakes. “It is possible to do both, but only if the culture is conducive. It
has to start from the top. Unless coaching and mentoring are espoused from the
CEO down, they can be perceived as manipulative tools, something they are doing
to US. It is a leadership issue.”
for Leadership” is the theme of a book published last year by Dr Laurence
Lyons, vice-president of Executive Coaching Network Inc and director of
research for the Future Work Forum at Henley Management College. “It always
works best with buy-in from the top,” he concedes.
is very difficult to argue with success. The majority of our clients are
promoted very quickly thanks to their increasing business acuity, depth of
thinking and willingness to try new styles, behaviours and approaches – vital
qualities in today’s business world.”
are also what HR is all about – or should be. So where does HR fit in?
is the most strategic HR activity you could engage in,” says Lyons. “If the
sponsor is the CEO and the HR department gets caught out, the scheme may still
work, but as an external [consultant] you really need to bring them along with
you. That can involve a steep learning curve.
the other hand, there are some very smart HR people around who are themselves
the advocates and actually start the initiative. They are the ones who take the
strategic view and ask how it will benefit the bottom line. They draw up the
framework for the coaching they want and determine what sort of people to bring
in. They are very astute and know exactly what they are looking for. They are
also happy to be facilitators, acting in a consultative mode.
most of them the content is outside their normal area and they are not experts.
But they are good process people. They secure agreement on the profile, put
robust projects into place and ensure there are efficient measurement systems.
When they approach it in this well-managed way, they become the stars of the
top management team.”
find out how coaching can help HR become a change asset see Global Links and
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ingredients for a successful coaching or mentoring scheme
be successful there needs to be:
A committed sponsor from senior management and a dedicated scheme coordinator
A clear purpose. The intervention must be relevant to the individual’s needs
and contribute to the organisation’s well-being
Rapport. The relationship will founder unless there is enthusiasm and
commitment from both parties
Defined boundaries and guidelines. The terms of the relationship should be
mutually agreed and a contract drawn up to establish ground rule
Honesty and openness. Quality feedback is a key element of every coaching
relationship and sometimes the feedback may be hard to digest. This reinforces
the importance of a strong rapport based on mutual respect and trust
Adequate training. According to David Clutterbuck, co-founder and director of
the European Mentoring Service, one in three mentoring relationships succeeds
through serendipity alone. This figure doubles when mentors receive appropriate
training and rises to nine out of 10 when mentees are trained too
Evaluation. Measures for mentoring can be both hard (absence, promotion) and
soft (increased self-confidence, heightened creativity, happier working
relationships). As coaching is intended to improve performance there should be
a demonstrable impact on the bottom line
Poor planning and preparation
The wrong chemistry between participants
The perception that coaching is remedial rather than a means of raising people
to greater heights
Confusion between the role of mentor and line manager.
The Industrial Society
Practice what you preach
mentoring added value for both staff and their advisers at one organisation
the Industrial Society introduced a mentoring scheme, it was intended for new
recruits and people confronting a change of circumstances, such as a new role.
It was largely voluntary and staff were provided with a checklist of 15 items
and asked to mark those which were important to them.
by learning consultant Sheila Marston in 1997 and run by the HR team, subjects
ranged from careers advice and resources to role models and personal problems.
This was then forwarded to HR who identified a possible match.
mentors were not always senior to the learners, as we call them,” says learning
and development director Andrew Forrest. “The most important criterion was the
chemistry, and no-one was under any pressure to work with a person they did not
like. After an informal meeting to see how they got along, the formal structure
was introduced and a contract drawn up between the parties.”
was provided through a booklet outlining procedures and half-day training
sessions for mentors and learners alike. “It may sound rather brief, but they
had continuing access to HR for support and advice. It is also worth
remembering that many of our staff are trainers and already possess some
the scheme was reviewed after 15-to-18 months, feedback was very positive. One
of the most valuable outcomes for the learners was the realisation that they
could control their own career progression. Mentors too had gained from the
experience. “They found that it had helped them to slow down, become more
patient and learn to listen,” he says. “Managers are under so much pressure
today, it is something they find difficult to do.”
interesting statistic to emerge was that the average mentoring partnership had
taken up only nine hours over a 12-month period. “As long as the quality of
interaction was good, this appeared to be adequate,” Forrest says.
busy diaries could be a hazard and one of the ground rules was that no meeting
should be postponed for more than a week.
was that line managers should never mentor members of their own team, as this
can lead to a conflict of interests. Care was also taken to ensure that mentors
and line managers understood their respective roles. “I have known situations
where huge jealousy flares up and people have stand-up rows.
were very open with both parties. The scheme was introduced very gently and
allowed to develop at its own pace, so managers were comfortable with the idea.
It was also set in the wider context of all our other methods of development
and was seen as part of the natural fabric.”
only regret is that when the Industrial Society entered a period of major
reorganisation, many mentors moved on and some of the impetus of the programme
was lost. “You could argue that when you are facing significant upheaval, you
need mentoring more than ever. With hindsight, perhaps we should have done more
to persuade those who left to continue in their mentoring roles while they were
here,” he says.