Coaching and Mentoring

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Solutions to coaching and mentoring a large UK-based customer facing organisation over a two year period and beyond

Introduction

The chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in the UK (CIPD 2009) reports that 79% of survey respondents are using coaching within their organisation and that 77% say coaching has been increasing in recent years. It is therefore no surprise that the large UK-based customer facing organisation, where I am hypothetically working as a human resources manager, has made a commitment to deliver coaching and mentoring to improve performance over the next two years. The aim of this report is to highlight how coaching and mentoring differs from training, and to also explain how the use of coaching can effectively improve manager performance within the organisation. Such a result can be achieved by identifying the potential barriers to success encountered when using coaching and providing solutions for them. The report will conclude by recommending ways to overcome the potential barriers and suggest ways to ensure cost effective delivery of coaching and mentoring over the two year period and beyond.

How coaching differs from training and how it can improve manager performance

Coaching can be seen as the use of silence, questions, and challenges to assist a coachee towards a defined work-based target. These are often present issues or ones that relate to the future (McLeod 2006). Therefore, coaching is an intervention aimed at helping the coachee to focus on and achieve their clearly defined goals. The coach uses open ended questions to provoke thought, raise awareness, and to inspire motivation and commitment (Ives 2008). From the range of coaching approaches diagram (Downey 2009) below, it shows that coaching can be generalised as being directive (push or hands on) or non-directive (pull or hands off).

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Whitmore (2003) suggests that hands-off approach should be applied whenever possible. Parsloe and Wray (2000) state that, the more rapidly a coach can move from hands-on to hands-off style, the faster improvement in performance will be achieved. A strict non-directive approach would insist that coaching is almost entirely about questioning and is not about directing. In this respect, the role of the coach is to conduct the process not to direct the outcome.

Training, on the other hand can be seen as a hierarchical delivery of information (Smith & Cox 2007), and from figure 1 the aims of training below, Rogers (2004) suggests that training operates at 3 different levels. At level 1 it is about the teaching of skills which are defined and assessed. Level 2 is where processing is required of the information in context. Finally, Level 3 is where concepts and theories are presented and management must use and apply these to their situation.

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Coaching starts from a person-centred approach (Rogers 1986) and is always working from the coachee’s agenda to arrive at solutions and answers which are very individual and subjective. In contrast, trainers generally work to established and pre-determined ideas where the routes are well defined for most situations and there is perceived to be a ‘right’ answer. Essentially, training is characterised by having relatively pre-determined answers often with an objective frame of reference whereas coaching will create emergent solutions which will have a primarily subjective value (Smith & Cox 2007). Another difference can be explained with the aid of figure 2 learning strategies map (Smith & Cox 2007). [pic]

Each quadrant in figure 2 provides a framework for understanding the activities and strategies used when developing others. Activities in quadrants A, B and C all fall within the training arena and by contrast quadrant D is the main focus for coaching. Therefore, training will generally work towards pre-determined, objective areas of knowledge; whilst coaching is person-centred, helping define subjective answers to open...
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