Previous Article Next Article Ascompanies realise the benefits of coaching and mentoring for employees, thepressure is on to convert this to the bottom line. In this fast-growing fieldit will be the role of HR departments to maintain the balance betweenmotivating people and achieving quantifiable resultsFlatter,leaner organisations. Broader, more versatile management roles. Complex careerpaths in place of linear progression and the security of jobs for life. Theseare just some of the characteristics of the modern working world that have ledto the burgeoning popularity of mentoring and coaching. A recent CIPD survey of800 training managers reported that 87 per cent of UK companies now utilise oneor both methods to develop their people. Even more interestingly, over half ofthe respondents deemed them more effective than conventional classroomsolutions.Itis not that traditional training has had its day, but when it comes tofostering creativity and tapping the unique potential of each individual,mentoring and coaching are powerful tools. When properly managed, they canproduce outstanding results.“It’sall about self-awareness,” says executive coach Hetty Einzig of the SportingBodymind Group, whose clients include Barclays Bank, GlaxoWellcome and Jaguar.“You can’t become really successful unless you take time to examine your ownpersonality – how you process information, manage your own emotions, establishrelationships, make decisions, optimise human potential. Those who reach thetop are very emotionally literate. Coaching plays a huge part in releasingthat.”Ifthe individual reaps high rewards, the pay-off for the organisation is equallysignificant. A happy, well-motivated, high-performing workforce cannot fail toimpact on the bottom line, although by exactly how much may be difficult tomeasure. There is also a wealth of evidence to demonstrate that mentoring playsa key role in retaining staff who might otherwise be tempted to jump ship, acrucial asset in a world where talent is in short supply. DavidClutterbuck, senior partner of Clutterbuck Associates and co-founder/ directorof the European Mentoring Service, cites the example of SmithKline Beecham,whose finance department had a staff turnover of 25 per cent last year, yetonly 2 per cent of these were mentored staff. “Five-10 per cent of this may bedue to the fact that people who seek out mentors are more motivated in thefirst place,” he says. “Nevertheless, the figures are impressive.”Sowhat exactly does coaching and mentoring entail and how do you distinguishbetween the two?Thereseem to be almost as many definitions as there are practitioners and the factthat Europe and the US interpret the words slightly differently adds to theconfusion. The issue is further clouded by the growing popularity of executivecoaching, which shares common ground with mentoring.Broadlyspeaking, however, coaching intervention targets high performance andimprovement at work, although it may also have an impact on an individual’sprivate life. It usually lasts for a short period and focuses on specificskills and goals, enabling the participant to think through issues in adifferent way. “Everyonehas huge potential but we tend to block ourselves,” says Sheridan Maguire ofthe School of Coaching, set up by the Industrial Society and Myles Downey. “Agood coach is an excellent listener, asks astute questions and helps thelearner to make their own discoveries.”Mentoring,on the other hand, revolves more around the relationship, which may last foryears, or even a lifetime. Sometimes the focus is on career development and thementor will have extensive experience in the mentee’s professional field. Othermentors act in a more pastoral capacity and may not even share the samediscipline. They serve more as a combination of coach, counsellor, soundingboard and critical friend, providing a safe haven where employees can exploreissues in confidence. Howeveryou define coaching and mentoring, there is universal agreement that withoutthe willing consent of both parties, very little will be achieved.ClaireMontanaro, the founder of Intuition in Business, part of Claire Montanaro &Co, believes participation should be voluntary. “If people are reluctant, youcan try to persuade them by offering them the chance to meet one or two coachesor mentors and see how it goes,” she says. “But if they still don’t want to doit, they will only harbour resentment, which can be positivelycounterproductive.”Onthe opposite side of the coin, what if the coaching or mentoring is soinspiring it serves as a catalyst for high-flying employees to move on?“Inmy experience, this rarely happens and when it does I believe they would havegone anyway,” says Montanaro. “There must have been some underlying source ofdissatisfaction. If it can’t be alleviated, it is probably better they leave.”Moreoften than not, this “underlying source of dissatisfaction” stems from anunhappy relationship with a line manager, or from an organisational culturethat claims to espouse the values of learning, creativity and responsibilitywhile still operating in traditional mode. “It’sall about control,” says Maguire. “Many managers have got where they are byhard graft, acquiring skills, amassing knowledge, playing the system to climbthe ladder. Suddenly they are told they must no longer hold on to information,but give it away – communicate, step back. That is quite difficult for peoplesteeped in the old management culture.”Managerscan also find themselves torn between the conflicting pressures of achievingmeasurable results and giving people space to develop – and maybe makemistakes. “It is possible to do both, but only if the culture is conducive. Ithas to start from the top. Unless coaching and mentoring are espoused from theCEO down, they can be perceived as manipulative tools, something they are doingto US. It is a leadership issue.”“Coachingfor Leadership” is the theme of a book published last year by Dr LaurenceLyons, vice-president of Executive Coaching Network Inc and director ofresearch for the Future Work Forum at Henley Management College. “It alwaysworks best with buy-in from the top,” he concedes. “Itis very difficult to argue with success. The majority of our clients arepromoted very quickly thanks to their increasing business acuity, depth ofthinking and willingness to try new styles, behaviours and approaches – vitalqualities in today’s business world.”Theyare also what HR is all about – or should be. So where does HR fit in?“Itis the most strategic HR activity you could engage in,” says Lyons. “If thesponsor is the CEO and the HR department gets caught out, the scheme may stillwork, but as an external [consultant] you really need to bring them along withyou. That can involve a steep learning curve. “Onthe other hand, there are some very smart HR people around who are themselvesthe advocates and actually start the initiative. They are the ones who take thestrategic view and ask how it will benefit the bottom line. They draw up theframework for the coaching they want and determine what sort of people to bringin. They are very astute and know exactly what they are looking for. They arealso happy to be facilitators, acting in a consultative mode.“Formost of them the content is outside their normal area and they are not experts.But they are good process people. They secure agreement on the profile, putrobust projects into place and ensure there are efficient measurement systems.When they approach it in this well-managed way, they become the stars of thetop management team.”Tofind out how coaching can help HR become a change asset see Global Links andStrategic HR at www.personneltoday.com/featuresFor a list of coaching and mentoring providers go to www.personneltoday.com/directoryEssentialingredients for a successful coaching or mentoring schemeTobe successful there needs to be: –A committed sponsor from senior management and a dedicated scheme coordinator–A clear purpose. The intervention must be relevant to the individual’s needsand contribute to the organisation’s well-being–Rapport. The relationship will founder unless there is enthusiasm andcommitment from both parties–Defined boundaries and guidelines. The terms of the relationship should bemutually agreed and a contract drawn up to establish ground rule–Honesty and openness. Quality feedback is a key element of every coachingrelationship and sometimes the feedback may be hard to digest. This reinforcesthe importance of a strong rapport based on mutual respect and trust–Adequate training. According to David Clutterbuck, co-founder and director ofthe European Mentoring Service, one in three mentoring relationships succeedsthrough serendipity alone. This figure doubles when mentors receive appropriatetraining and rises to nine out of 10 when mentees are trained too–Evaluation. Measures for mentoring can be both hard (absence, promotion) andsoft (increased self-confidence, heightened creativity, happier workingrelationships). As coaching is intended to improve performance there should bea demonstrable impact on the bottom lineCommonPitfalls–Poor planning and preparation–The wrong chemistry between participants–The perception that coaching is remedial rather than a means of raising peopleto greater heights–Confusion between the role of mentor and line manager.CasestudiesThe Industrial SocietyPractice what you preachVoluntarymentoring added value for both staff and their advisers at one organisationWhenthe Industrial Society introduced a mentoring scheme, it was intended for newrecruits and people confronting a change of circumstances, such as a new role.It was largely voluntary and staff were provided with a checklist of 15 itemsand asked to mark those which were important to them. Initiatedby learning consultant Sheila Marston in 1997 and run by the HR team, subjectsranged from careers advice and resources to role models and personal problems.This was then forwarded to HR who identified a possible match. “Thementors were not always senior to the learners, as we call them,” says learningand development director Andrew Forrest. “The most important criterion was thechemistry, and no-one was under any pressure to work with a person they did notlike. After an informal meeting to see how they got along, the formal structurewas introduced and a contract drawn up between the parties.”Supportwas provided through a booklet outlining procedures and half-day trainingsessions for mentors and learners alike. “It may sound rather brief, but theyhad continuing access to HR for support and advice. It is also worthremembering that many of our staff are trainers and already possess somerelevant skills.”Whenthe scheme was reviewed after 15-to-18 months, feedback was very positive. Oneof the most valuable outcomes for the learners was the realisation that theycould control their own career progression. Mentors too had gained from theexperience. “They found that it had helped them to slow down, become morepatient and learn to listen,” he says. “Managers are under so much pressuretoday, it is something they find difficult to do.”Oneinteresting statistic to emerge was that the average mentoring partnership hadtaken up only nine hours over a 12-month period. “As long as the quality ofinteraction was good, this appeared to be adequate,” Forrest says. Nevertheless,busy diaries could be a hazard and one of the ground rules was that no meetingshould be postponed for more than a week. Anotherwas that line managers should never mentor members of their own team, as thiscan lead to a conflict of interests. Care was also taken to ensure that mentorsand line managers understood their respective roles. “I have known situationswhere huge jealousy flares up and people have stand-up rows. “Wewere very open with both parties. The scheme was introduced very gently andallowed to develop at its own pace, so managers were comfortable with the idea.It was also set in the wider context of all our other methods of developmentand was seen as part of the natural fabric.”Forrest’sonly regret is that when the Industrial Society entered a period of majorreorganisation, many mentors moved on and some of the impetus of the programmewas lost. “You could argue that when you are facing significant upheaval, youneed mentoring more than ever. With hindsight, perhaps we should have done moreto persuade those who left to continue in their mentoring roles while they werehere,” he says. Coaching for successOn 3 Apr 2001 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.