"The idea that people make the difference is often present in Mission and Strategic statements but very often is not followed through. Lots more companies are waking up to the fact that people can't always 'do it' alone and that they need support, guidance and nurturing."
Most markets in the current business world are under pressure. Sales are tough to win and profits are under the scrutiny of shareholders. Competitive edge is difficult to gain and quickly copied whilst people are asked to produce more and better. How then to respond to all these challenges to improve performance while keeping a healthy work/life balance? There is growing evidence that Coaching & Mentoring may well be the answer.
Recent studies are confirming that this new approach could meet the needs of members of staff because there are two things that stimulate people more than anything else in a working environment; being challenged in a new role and to have a key individual that provides help and support.
Coaching & Mentoring have become increasingly popular in UK and are fast developing in West European countries. This new emphasis on people development has been driven by several powerful forces. Firstly there has been a trend towards flattening of the hierarchies within organisations and in the reduction of the number of management levels. Secondly, the labour market has changed, people are more mobile and recognize and prefer to work for companies where a coaching culture exists because it is much more fun and rewarding working for them. Third, business conditions, markets and technologies are all changing very fast and companies can no longer afford to send staff away on week-long training. Training needs to be continuous and more ‘on the job’.
All this points to the need for continuous professional development of individuals, more on a one-to-one basis, and to the need for a more collaborative approach to working. Coaching & Mentoring could certainly help the process. But what are Coaching & Mentoring? There is a great deal of misrepresentation and misperception when it comes to defining Coaching and Mentoring. Both terms have been redefined over time to accommodate socio-economic changes so that there are almost as many definitions of coaching and mentoring as there are practitioners. To make things worse the way Europe and the US interpret the words slightly differs.
The word mentor comes from the Greek mythology. Odysseus before going on one of his trips entrusted his son Telemachus to his good friend Mentor so that he could protect and advise him. The word mentor has now become synonymous with ‘trusted friend’, teacher, wiser person and Mentoring as the art of facilitating the performance, the learning and the development of another. The accent here is more on the development of the capabilities of the individual and is more of a long term process. Coaching on the other hand is primarily about performance and the development of specific skills and works more on the short term (it is also used in sport, business to business, in the academic world etc.). Helping people to learn rather than teaching them. There are large overlaps between Coaching and Mentoring. Essentially though, both coaching and mentoring are powerful processes which allow an individual, a team or an organisation to unlock potential through self awareness.
Article by: Gaby Marcon Clarke
Coaching and Mentoring