How coaching, mentoring can drive success

Understanding corporate coaching

Increasingly, organisations are realising the many benefits of developing talent through coaching and mentoring programmes. However, questions often arise about the use of each method, how these methods can support talent development, and the tools available for running programmes.

People Management Issues Robert Mandeya

Corporate coaching is a systematic approach to coaching which helps an employee get the best performance out of themselves — the potential for which was already there. There are two types of corporate coaches: an internal coach or a professional external coach.

Internal coach

This is an individual line manager or internal professional coach. Specially trained internal coach can champion systematic productive coaching to his team within the organisation. Properly trained and certified internal coach should be able to align training needs of employees with organisational talent development agenda. While internal coaches are cost effective especially when coaching large numbers of employees, it can be costly if the coach lacks the requisite skills to organise purposeful training programmes for such groups. They also can be affected by certain biases which might compromise on quality training.

External coach

An external coach, works outside of the organisation and offer value of wider experience. They are capable of administering an independent approach to training. As well as maintaining high standard of confidentiality, they can provide fresh ideas and knowledge. Skilled external coaches can offer more experienced coaching skills set which can benefit the bottom line of organisational productivity capacity.

Targeted and focused coaching

It is primarily aimed at developing skills competence and improving performance in specific areas, coaching engagements for talent development are short term, focused programs.

With more finite and tangible learning delivered through coaching, the development and performance goals set over shorter periods of time help the high-potential person develop within the various stages of their career progression. According to Price WaterhouseCoopers Global Survey on Coaching 2011, the Return On Investment (ROI) for companies who invest in coaching is 7 times the initial investment.

Linking coaching and mentoring

Most talent programmes use mentoring as a complementary learning method with coaching. Mentoring is an incredibly powerful tool for individuals who want to learn and grow within an organisation. For those moving or preparing to move into a new role, taking on new responsibilities, building confidence to develop their career further, or working in a new environment it becomes much easier with a mentor to support you.Mentoring programs have a longer time horizon than coaching and concentrate more on career development, leadership development, and knowledge transfer versus individual skill development or immediate performance improvement.

The benefits of engaging a coach in business;

Inspires the individual to perform “best thinking” and “best practice.” The coach needs to be up to date on best practices in the workplace and not allow the individual to continue on a path that has already proven to be out-dated or faulty. Organisational practices are so often very opaque and the coach can be a vital source of new external information.

Causes the individual to challenge assumptions and discern facts from opinion. As we move up what Chris Argyis calls the “ladder of inference,” we begin to treat assumptions as facts to the point where we will believe something is true that has very little basis in actual data. The coach helps to surface erroneous assumptions before decision making occurs by testing the meaning being added, the conclusions drawn and the beliefs formed.
Provides encouragement and support. We live in an ultra-critical world with extremely high expectations placed on our leaders. We forget that they are human, with self-doubts, anxieties, and internal voices that are very self-critical. The coach is invaluable for providing positive feedback, encouragement and a supportive ear during difficult times.

Teaches and directs when experience and competency are lacking. In every coaching situation I have had, there have been strategies and tools that I have shared that benefit the individual’s understanding and competency. Self-discovery is only valuable if there is something inside to discover. In the case where competency is lacking, self-discovery can be a futile path. Having a coach who is knowledgeable in areas where the individual is not, opens doors to new understanding and insights.

Extracts lessons learned from various experiences. The coach can initiate the reflective conversation related to lessons learned that many leaders actually tend to avoid. If the individual is one-sided during the reflection, the coach can encourage a balance between the positives and negatives.

Provides constructive insight and feedback about the “blind self” areas. For those familiar with Johari’s window, we all have what is called the “blind self” — behaviours that we do not see in ourselves that others do see. The coach can open exploration of these behaviors through guided discussion, helping the obscure become transparent and reflecting to the individual how he or she might be perceived by others. These insights can form the basis of a strong personal development plan for the individual.

Guides new learning. I am always curious about how few books and articles leaders actually read to stay current in their managerial field. I have often asked my clients how they are surviving in business with such limited readership culture. The coach can be a personal librarian of information and resources — books, videos, audio-tapes, articles, blogs, associations and tweets to follow — that might be valuable for the leader.

Coaching others is such a serious responsibility because of the impact it has on others, both intellectually and emotionally. I’m curious to hear from readers out there on how they perceive the role of coach within their organisations.

Mandeya is a senior executive training consultant and communication in management advisor, a personal coach in leadership and professional development with the Institute of Leadership Research and Development. —, The views contained herein are personal.