Coaching and Mentoring – Putting things into practise: part 2


effective coach and mentor

Coaching and Mentoring – Putting things into practise: part 2

In part 2 of this article, we continue our discussion of putting coaching and mentoring into practise with more tips and tricks of what it means to be an effective coach and mentor.

Setting learning and career goals

In becoming an effective coach and mentor when setting learning and career goals, employees need to know what you expect them to gain from training initiatives.  In turn, they should share their aspirations with you, especially if they are seeking a more lucrative position within the organisation.  You may want to record your commitment in writing as a way of helping them to reach their goals and which means that the commitment realistically promises what can be delivered.

Learning and career goals should be discussed with mentees at the start of the relationship and periodically thereafter in order that realistic and achievable milestones can be set.

Keeping in mind that coaching and mentoring are about performance

Becoming an effective coach and mentor  is not only about development but also about performance.  Nevertheless, their purpose is not to address performance issues which falls to the role of counselling, the aim of which is to advise a troubled employee in lieu of the situation resorting in termination.  Both coaching and mentoring aim to sustain, if not improve performance levels with in maintaining continuous communication and managerial support.  It is important that employees know where they stand in the organisation, what they are doing right, what they are doing wrong and how they can improve themselves.  Hence, the importance of feedback from coach or mentor cannot be overemphasised.  The person being mentored also needs to be able to communicate with their mentor when they need help or assistance.  Both individuals need to maintain this dialogue in a timely manner and on an ongoing basis.

Being available when needed

When your protégé needs to meet with you for a conversation, it is important for you to find the time to have the meeting, which often can require more than a ‘desk meeting’.  A meeting over lunch or coffee might be what is needed for the person to be able to open up to you away from others.

“Management in business today is different combinations of face-to-face, ear-to-ear and keyboard-to-keyboard.”

Michael Dell

Telephonic and email communication will make you more accessible to your mentee and such virtual communication channels should be used when one-on-one  discussions are not possible.   Email can make things easier in the sense that it enables you to discuss an employee’s performance as well as opening up the opportunity for your employees to share their dreams, aspirations and vulnerabilities with their boss or mentor.

Acknowledging improvement

To an employee, acknowledging good performance does not necessarily have to mean substantial financial rewards alone.  More often than not, recognition of improvements in performance or a major accomplishment can come in the form of praise as well as other positive reinforcements.   It is important to note that unless the achievement is acknowledged, no matter how small it may be, the improvement is not likely to be permanent and the accomplishment unlikely to be repeated.  Nor are either likely to be followed by greater improvements or accomplishments over time.   As a manager, part of your job is to provide coaching, indeed it may form a major part of your job description.   Consider the benefits of spending twenty minutes at least once a month with each one of your employees.

Providing constructive feedback

In becoming an effective coach and mentor the keyword here is feedback.  Often, we hear the phrase ‘constructive criticism’, but, criticism by its very nature is negative.  Where problems exist, feedback should suggest the means by which performance can be improved and not be filled with adverbs that suggest that the person always does wrong or will never improve.  Nor should judgements be made about the mentee’s attitude.  By suggesting that someone is lazy, argumentative or uninterested in their work is demoralising and more likely to decrease the individual’s level of performance rather than improving it.

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