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Coaching and Mentoring: The Keys to Successful Career Development

April 10th, 2015

Coaching and Mentoring: The Keys to Successful Career Development

When it comes to driving forward organisational growth, you must have the ability to tap into the potential of your staff. Organisations that perform the best are those that continually evolve and create, adapting to the needs of the now.

Developing internal skills in coaching and mentoring is one of the most effective ways to maximise the potential of your people, as great mentoring disseminates the knowledge and skills that already exists in organisation to others, and great coaching supports staff to think and learn for themselves.

However, many people confuse them as being the same thing, and while there are indeed a number of fundamental similarities between coaching and mentoring, there are also some differences. It means that leaders who really want to get the most of their teams can unleash the full powers of both coaching and mentoring to achieve phenomenal growth.

Similarities between coaching and mentoring

It makes sense to outline the aspects that both coaching and mentoring have in common before pointing out the difference. Both use questioning techniques to facilitate individual growth, helping them to realise solutions and actions that need to be taken rather than directly telling what needs to be done. Goal setting is also a common element, as is careful progress assessment to check how these goals are being achieved.

Both coaches and mentors observe, listen and ask questions to understand the client’s situation. They follow up by applying tailored tools and techniques, such as one-to-one training, counselling or networking. Both coaches and mentors, guiding the client to commit to the action that is needed and develop lasting personal growth, provide an encouragement role. In doing this, the coach or mentor will maintain unconditional positive regard for the client, and remain supportive and non-judgemental of the client, their views, lifestyle and aspirations.

Differences between coaching and mentoring

With so many things in common, it’s no wonder that many managers find themselves confused when it comes to distinguishing between coaching and mentoring. The following definitions should help to set things clear.

Mentoring enables an individual to follow in the path of a more experienced colleague who can pass on knowledge, experience and open doors to otherwise out-of-reach opportunities. In contrast, coaching does not have to be performed on the basis that the coach has direct experience of their client’s formal occupational role – indeed, many coaches are available to equip with general growth, even if their knowledge is lacking in a particular subject area.

This means that even if you work in a company with niche knowledge, bringing an external coach in to work on problematic areas could still be a highly lucrative solution to problems you have. Combined with a mentorship programme (which a coach can help you to implement), the people in your company will have a structure in place that actively encourages personal and organisational growth.

Ultimately, both coaching and mentoring are processes that enable individuals and corporations to achieve their maximum potential.

Our short-courses in Coaching for Leaders and Managers are designed to bring about significant changes in the way people are engaged and developed. We believe that effective workplace coaching brings about a range of benefits that directly contribute to improved performance, people development and succession planning. We help leaders and managers to support their team members to take a greater sense of accountability, enhance their decision-making and decrease their dependency on more senior colleagues for solutions. By facilitating team members to reflect and develop their own solutions, leaders and managers can build a positive ‘can do’ culture and empower others to take effective action.

Insight is an accredited Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) provider so participants who successfully complete our programmes can gain nationally recognised qualifications.

The job of our coaches at Insight is to support individuals to get from A to B, quicker and more effectively than they might on their own. We create the right time and space to improve performance and find answers. All Insight coaches are experienced and qualified coaches. They are drawn from different professional backgrounds and use a wide variety of approaches and techniques to develop the skills and confidence of each individual. We work with Chief Executives, Directors, Senior, Middle and Junior Managers, and other specialist staff.

If you would like to learn more then please get in touch with us at hello@insight.co.uk, or join us on Twitter @Insight_hrc.

Or, if you are a coach, why not join us at one of our South Wales Coaching Network sessions? They run every first Wednesday of the month at different venues across Cardiff and the surrounding areas. These events are a great way to meet other coaches in the area, discuss best practice and share thoughts and ideas. There is always plenty of informal debate and an opportunity to workshop and discuss new and exciting methods. We look forward to seeing you there!



Insight team


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