Mentoring And Coaching - An Overview

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TechnicalBriefingDEVELOPING AND PROMOTING STRATEGYJANUARY 2002Mentoring and Coaching –An Overview Defining coaching andmentoring Differences between acoach and a mentor Mentoring and coachingparallels Finding a coach or amentor Barriers to effectivecoaching and mentoring Reciprocity of relationships Feedback and performance measurement Setting up a mentoringor coaching procedure Benefits of coachingand mentoring inorganisations Links to good management Corporate strategy References and furtherreadingIMA has been saying for a while now that finance professionalsneed to acquire a much broader set of skills if they are tosurvive in the world of modern business. The pace of change – partlydriven by the advances in information technology and the pervadinginfluence of globalisation – has become relentless. The complexityof work has increased while career paths have become less obviousdue to the flattening of organisational structures. The skills andknowledge that were sufficient even 50 years ago are now provingto be inadequate. Managers and executives are having continually toacquire new skills, be it in IT or organisational strategy. The traditional method of one-off instruction designed to equip an individualwith enough knowledge to last a lifetime has been superseded by theconcept of lifelong learning. As far back as 1977, Gross wrote:C‘Lifelong learning means self-directed growth. It means understandingyourself and the world. It means acquiring new skills and powers – theonly true wealth you can never lose. It means investment in yourself.’he Financial Management Accounting Committee (FMAC) of theInternational Federation of Accountants (IFAC) is about to publisha paper entitled ‘The Role of the Chief Financial Officer in 2010’.Amongst the CFOs and FDs interviewed, there seems to be a generalconsensus that the nature of finance professionals’ tasks is changingto encompass a much wider set of skills. Angela Holtham fromNabisco, for example, pointed out that this evolution is leaving thetraditional underpinning of the finance role behind and embracing amuch wider and more common range of responsibilities. The role ischanging from being ‘The Guardian of the Books’ to the business sideand away from the transaction side.Tt is not surprising, then, that individuals and organisations arestruggling to find new ways of learning that will reflect the variedand complex demands of a modern workplace. Recent years havewitnessed the emergence of coaching and mentoring in manycompanies alongside the more traditional training methods. Thisbriefing attempts to give a broad overview of the concepts involved,as well as some basic pointers about the practicalities of establishinga corporate coaching or mentoring scheme.IFor further information pleasecontact:Technical Services:Tel: 44 (0)20 7663 5441Fax: 44 (0)20 8849

TECHNICAL BRIEFINGMENTORING AND COACHINGhere is no longer a point in one’s career where one can stop learning. People change jobsmuch more frequently nowadays and are faced with new responsibilities. Increased flexibility demands a broader spectrum of skills. This is especially true for finance professionals. Overthe last decade, their roles have been expanding to accommodate knowledge from other disciplines and overlapping with other organisational functions. But, whereas many will be givenenough support to advance the specialist side of their knowledge (whether in their workplaceor through professional bodies such as CIMA), most will be left with little time or opportunity toimprove their ‘soft’ skills such as communication, listening and team-work.Traditionally, these have not been the sort of skills accountants acquired through their professional or academic training or were able to utilise in their everyday work. The emphasis –until recently – had weighed heavily on the technical side. However, disregarding these skillscould leave finance professionals seriously disadvantaged in an environment that increasinglyfavours inter-functional, joined-up practices.TDefinitions of coaching and mentoringword of warning, however – there is no universal definition of either of these terms and therefore of the difference between them. There will inevitably be some whodisagree with the citations below. This is why we listthree similar though not identical sources.Despite what some HR consultants may tell you, coachingand mentoring are not recent phenomena. Edification ofsome kind has existed since Homer’s Mentor advisedOdysseus and thus lent his name to this very humanactivity. It was probably the goddess Athena herself, disguised as Mentor, who guided Odysseus’ son Telemachusin search for his father. Whatever the case, these ‘wise andtrusted counsellors’ have remained a feature of humaninteractions throughout history. The common noun‘mentor’ was first recorded in 1750. Interestingly, theetymology of the noun ‘coach’ is actually Hungarian. It isderived from the word for a vehicle or a carriage – the ideabeing that instructors carried their pupils!A recent article in the Financial Times (Clutterbuck, 2001)succinctly highlighted the main features of each as wellas their differences:Coaching is concerned primarily with performance and thedevelopment of definable skills. It usually starts with thelearning goal already identified.The most effective coachesshare with mentors the capability to help the learner developthe skills of listening to and observing themselves, whichleads to much faster acquisition of skills and modification ofbehaviour. Coaches also share with mentors the role ofcritical friend – confronting executives with truths no one elsefeels able to address with them.Of course, the connotations of both of these words havewidened significantly since they were first recorded.Their relatively recent adoption into HR theory andpractice has turned them into verbs, implying institutionalised training strategy. According to a survey of trainingmanagers by the CIPD in 1999, some 87 per cent of UKcompanies have some kind of a coaching or mentoringscheme. There is certainly no shortage of books, papersand conferences on the subject.Whereas the coach is more likely to approach these issuesthrough direct feedback, the mentor will tend to approachthem through questioning processes that force the executiveto recognise the problems for themselves. Mentoring isusually a longer-term relationship and is more concerned withhelping the executive determine what goals to pursue andwhy. It seeks to build wisdom – the ability to apply skills,knowledge and experience in new situations and to newproblems.There are many kinds of coaching and mentoring – fromlife coaching to mentoring schemes designed exclusivelyfor women or minorities to corporate peer-to-peermentoring or ‘buddy’ systems. In this briefing, we arespecifically referring to coaching and mentoring in anorganisational context, whether formal or informal.(There are significant differences between the formal andinformal approaches – see Ehrich and Hansford, 1999.)The Coaching and Mentoring Network summarises itlike this:Differences between a coach and a mentor So how do we define these activities? It is worth pointingout at the beginning that – although they are distinct inboth the format they adopt and the desired outcomes –there are sufficient similarities and overlaps to allow usto occasionally use them as synonyms in this briefing. ACoaching:focuses on achieving specific objectives, usuallywithin a preferred time period. Mentoring:follows an open and evolving agenda and deals witha range of issues.2

TECHNICAL BRIEFINGMENTORING AND COACHINGBenabou and Benabou (2000) present the differences in atabular form:Coachsion making, at whatever level of concern. It is not aboutgiving the right answers – the mentee probably alreadyknows them. This is why coaches and even mentorsdon’t have to have the same level of technical expertiseas their protégés. Their task is not to magically solve theproblems but to question how you go about looking forsolutions. It is not psychological mollycoddling or a substitute for hard work.MentorProtégé’s learning is primarilyfocused on abilitiesLearning is focused on attitudesTechnical or professional focusFocus on personal andprofessional developmentEffective use of the protégé’sexisting competenciesHelps the protégé realise his/herpotentialProfessional interaction withthe protégéMore interaction with an affectivecomponentInspires respect for his/herprofessional competenciesIs a role modelNeither are one-off events but processes with distinctevolutionary stages. As individuals attain specific goalsand learn new behaviours, the goalposts move accordingly until both participants are satisfied that the overallobjective has been achieved. That objective can be anything from a complete career change to learning a newprocedure.Finding a coach or a mentorThe best way of finding a coach or a mentor by far ispersonal recommendation. Failing that, you should consult bodies such as the International CoachingFederation, The UK College of Life Coaching, The LifeCoaching Academy and The Industrial Society’s Schoolof Coaching. They should all be able to point you in aright direction when it comes to finding a reputablescheme or individual.Adapted from Benabou and Benabou, 2000 by permission of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.To summarise, coaching is a little bit like having theprofessional equivalent of a fitness trainer – a specialistdedicated to working with you on specific goals andobjectives you would like to achieve for whatever reasons.Mentors, on the other hand, are more likely to havefollowed a career path similar to the one on which youare embarking. They are, therefore, charged with passingon their knowledge and expertise. Importantly, the knowledge transmitted in this way will contain invaluabledetails about organisational values, beliefs and culture thatare hard to acquire through formal training.It is worth noting that, because these are relativelynew professions, a certain amount of caution should beexercised before allowing staff to divulge professionaland personal information to a third party. Eventually,there will probably be a self-regulating code of practicesimilar to those in law or accounting.Most definitions emphasise that the difference betweencoaching and mentoring is in the length of time they takebut that is somewhat of a fallacy. Both are finite relationships, the average lifespan being six to eighteen months.Mentoring can develop into a friendship and, therefore, lastmuch longer, but there are inherent dangers in blurring therole boundaries which are discussed later in this briefing.TrainingAlthough there probably are certain personality traitsthat predispose individuals to professions such ascoaching or mentoring, the importance of trainingshould not be underestimated. No-one is born a mentor –a nurturing personality does not mean that you will beany good at running a mentoring scheme or coachingindividuals. Mentors and coaches, like everyone else,require training, supervision and feedback.Mentoring and coaching parallelsAs already mentioned, coaching and mentoring do sharesome common features. There could be occasions wherecoaches have to assume mentoring roles and vice versa.In most cases, they are both independent of line management relationships as that may stifle the openness andhonesty which is – or should be – at the heart of a successful dialogue. A coach or a mentor in effect becomes‘an accountability partner’ – working with your bestinterests in mind and bringing fresh insights to eitherspecific tasks or your career or private life as a whole.Finding a mentor as opposed to a coach is more problematic because the nature of the relationship is morepersonal. Some organisations adapt a laissez-faire attitude and leave it up to mentors and mentees to seek eachother out, as it were. Some set up mandatory schemeswhere a third party – usually someone from HR in consultation with line managers – assigns individuals tosenior members of staff who will act as mentors. Theprocess is sometimes turned on its head – reverse mentoring is where junior members of staff mentor seniormanagers, often on IT-related matters.Neither coaching nor mentoring is about teaching,instruction or being told what to do. As learning styles,their essence is facilitation. It should never be confusedwith simply giving advice or even feedback. Their role isto ask the right questions in order to generate individualself-awareness which can, in turn, lead to informed deci-When it works, the benefits of a structured approach areclear – all the tacit, difficult-to-capture knowledge is3

TECHNICAL BRIEFINGMENTORING AND COACHINGreleased and passed on to the next generation. However,there is a danger that such an interventionist approachcould result in personality clashes that undermine thewhole basis of a mentoring relationship. (See the article inHarvard Business Review, Nov/Dec 2000 entitled ‘Too OldTo Learn?’ about the perils of reverse mentoring. You canobtain the article through CIMA’s Technical AdvisoryService.) In either case, good preparation on both sides iscrucial, as is an awareness of potential problems. Unfortunately, there has not been a plethora of studies onthe best ways to match individuals in mentoring (andcoaching) relationships. The little research that does existseems to point to similarities between participants inbeliefs, values and life goals. However, this ‘attraction tolike’ seems only to work at the level of general interestsand background (whether social, cultural or educational).It does not mean that mentors and mentees need to haveidentical management or learning styles. Quite the opposite – it seems that when this was the case, mentees soonlost interest as they perceived there was little new thatcould be learnt.Reciprocity of relationships the incorrect matching of mentors/coaches and learners;the lack of top-down support;the resentment felt by those not involved in thescheme or the perception of favouritism;the creation of false promotional expectations;the overdependence of the mentor or mentee;gender issues;blurring of role boundaries and so on.It is worth remembering that rather than being one-sided,the best mentoring relationships are reciprocal. You don’tsimply turn up once a fortnight (or however often) andlisten to some words of wisdom that will change your lifeforever. Both participants must play an active part, eventhough the onus is on the person being mentored orcoached. A good coach or mentor will set tasks andobjectives that need to be tackled before each meeting. Itis then up to the individual to complete them, reflectupon them and try to apply them in practice. If there isno input, the coach or mentor might decide to terminatethe relationship.Whatever matching approach you decide to take, makesure you meet the coach or the mentor before the processgets under way as good rapport between participants isessential. (This is somewhat less true for coaching as it ismore about action planning and setting measurableobjectives and less about learning by example.)A lot of popular literature on the subject focuses on therecipient of mentoring or coaching as if the relationshipexists solely for their benefit. In fact, people choose tobecome coaches or mentors because they themselves getsomething out of it. Many would say that they enjoybeing involved in someone else’s development and thatthey enjoy nurturing young talent. Those who aremanagers themselves see it as a way of becoming betterat their job by developing their listening skills and theability to see things from a different perspective. Becauseit bypasses direct line management, mentees are morelikely to be honest about their work problems – and thusprovide an invaluable insight into management roles.(The interaction between coaching and mentoring andmanagement is discussed towards the end of this briefing.)With one-to-one mentoring, it is easy to establish earlyon whether sufficient empathy is present. Even on acorporate level, those in charge of setting up a mentoringor coaching scheme should consider how the potentialcandidate(s) fits in with the overall organisational cultureand the individuals likely to be involved.Good rapport is also important because coaching andmentoring are powerful relationships that are open toabuse from both sides. The participants need to agreeclear rules and boundaries before the process begins andstick to the same parameters throughout. Unless there istotal trust, openness and commitment to confidentiality,the scheme will quite simply be unsuccessful. In addition, it should always be a voluntary programme – noone should be coerced into being coached or mentored.Feedback and performance measurementCompanies should ensure that there is a proper feedbackmechanism at the end of any coaching or mentoringundertaken. This should enable an honest evaluation ofits success – or otherwise – and provide the relevantinformation for any follow up action. Feedback shouldideally be sought at regular intervals. This creates atimely opportunity to identify potential trouble spots andrectify any mistakes. Many coaches ask their clients to fillin questionnaires but feedback can also take the form of adiscussion, formal or otherwise. It should involve the HRdepartment or the scheme champion, if one has beenappointed. There should be a report at the end detailingresults and recommendations, based on the analysis ofresources (including time and money) and participants’feedback.Barriers to effective coaching and mentoringThere is, as Long (1997) described it, a ‘darker side ofmentoring’, despite the fact that most of the literature onthe subject tends not to mention it. The majority of itconcerns issues of organisational culture – i.e. the contextin which mentoring and coaching takes place – and theinterpersonal issues between the participants of the programme and the rest of the company. There is no spacehere to go into details of potential problems but someissues to bear in mind are (adapted from Ehrich andHansford, 1999):4

TECHNICAL BRIEFINGMENTORING AND COACHINGIt is important that the usual constraints of structuredplanning and control are applied to coaching/mentoringschemes. Although it is more difficult to gauge successdue to all the intangible factors involved (people’sperceptions, attitudes, etc.), some sort of performancemeasurement and cost–benefit analysis is necessary.Companies should produce hard data – whether qualitative or quantitative – about the success or failure of theprogramme. There must be clear objectives from theoutset, against which progress can be measured. Costsshould be assessed during the implementation stage.Some companies link overall goals to a competencyframework, with the annual performance rating of eachmentee as a measure (Clutterbuck, 2000/01). Somecompare costs of the mentoring programme to costs thatwould have been incurred using some other trainingactivity to reach the same objective. Similarly, costs canbe compared to the financial results of reaching a predefined target – for example, saving achieved in reducingcosts of conflicts (Benabou and Benabou, 2000).Coca-Cola’s coaching programme, although less formal,is nevertheless structured through five different categories which provide a flexible approach for different situations. They are modelling, instructing, enhancingperformance, problem solving and inspiration and support.Both coaching and mentoring are used as tools to supporthuman resource development strategy and, therefore, thewider objectives of value generation within the company.They are thus directly linked to long-term corporatestrategy.Benefits of coaching and mentoring inorganisationsWhy have coaching and mentoring become so popularrecently? Part of the answer surely lies in what the management guru Charles Handy once said would become themajor challenge of our time – man

managers by the CIPD in 1999, some 87 per cent of UK companies have some kind of a coaching or mentoring scheme. There is certainly no shortage of books, papers and conferences on the subject. There are many kinds of coaching and mentoring – from life coaching to mentoring schemes designed exclusively for women or minorities to corporate peer .

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