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Coaching and Mentoring


This is the transcript from the Online Workshop led by Andrea McHugh on 25 January 2000. Similar Online Workshops take place on TrainingZone every Tuesday.

Excellent, perhaps we could start with some introductions. What is everyone's experience of coaching/mentoring?
from others or to others?
I am coaching 22yr old budding film director, bringing him up to speed on the relationship of business and art
I train people in coaching, usually as part of another programme, and have been a manager and coach
I have a supervisory / coaching relationship with a couple of colleagues - both face-to-face and over the phone - quite informal but semi-structured
Welcome Caroline
Thanks. For my own part I've set up a mentoring programme for businesswomen, and have been an informal coach/mentor for young people and businesspeople. I now offer coaching as part of my training services.
Good afternoon Krista and welcome
Welcoem Krista - we're just getting going
Good afternoon all
Andrea - a question I keep being asked - do you make a distinction between 'coaching' and 'mentoring'?
Welcome Wendy - we're just getting going
I think the distinction is very wavy - I tend to talk about coaching as working to a specific objective and being quite structured, whereas a mentoring relationship is often less structured and ad hoc - more of an 'ear' or adviser. Any thoughts from anyone else?
Andrea, I get the feeling we need mentoring/coaching so people get off skills and learn how to learn things for themselves
It's getting busy: if you've just joined, could you add a line or two about your experience of coaching?
Welcome to Fran and Jo - we're discussing the difference between coaching and mentoring.
Yes Peter I would agree - coaching and mentoring is about guidance and advice - empowering rather than telling/lecturing
michael gray: I find the terms used very differently - sometimes mentors are just guides for a few days during induction; I think coaching is skill specific and mentoring much more holistic, but both arte work related
I am not a trainer but am frequently asked for advice, support etc so will benefit from your exchanges.
Hi, my experioence is fairly limited as I have recently moved from Group training in to a coaching and development role
Hello Marion
I see some companies using 'coaching' to refer to more senior staff developing newer staff, and 'mentoring' referring to a non-managerial relationship, often with an outside 'adviser/supporter'
I think learning for yourself can be a skill - something I learned from others !
How much is coaching/mentoring being used in organisations? Is it being used to support 'traditional' training or instead of?
Hello Andrea. And all. My background in mentoring with the unemployed to improve self esteem, confidence and employability. I am currently looking at moving into the business mentoring market.
Good afternoon Chris - we're looking at experiences of mentoring/coaching and definitions of the two terms.
my experience is that both are in use simultaneously; coaching is usually seen as a part of managers' jobs, particularly in devolved HR, but there's a lot of lip service to it
Marion, that's interesting: using mentoring with unemployed people, or others with low self-confidence must generate some specific difficulties. How does it work in practice? Do clients understand the approach?
Tim, it takes time as any good mentoring does. I think that the difference between mentoring and many other forms of support. It also takes time to build trust in the process.
Michael: no need to enter your name as a prefix - its shows up automatically in everyone's window except your own!
thanks Tim
Coaching I use to mean taking someone through a process and being there while they get the experiences, and you can show them it's Ok. Mentoring is a more remote, mental guide. For me anyway
As regards mentoring in business have just experienced a situation where by senior management could not get the change they wanted - re interpersonal skills - with employees and we discussed how mentoring could bring this about. Again its down to time, trust and a slower route towards what you want.
Thats interesting Marion has that process started yet?
Coaching for me means more about the skills we learn to do something well. Where as mentoring is more holistic.
Are we saying that the agenda and process for coaching are often more defined, perhaps linked to pre-defined learning outcomes. And that mentoring is a more open process of support?
Marion, do you find people are worried about spending the time to take the 'slower' route?
Mentoring does not have the boundaries imposed by other forms of support. It isn't coaching, or training, or counselling but canbe all three.
Exactly Tim.
I think mentoring is a two way process. The mentor benefits in self development as well as the other person. When you coach someone you're passing knowledge "down".
Yes Marion although I would say that for a business mentoring programme it is important that boundaries and objectives are set.
Peter, yes initially, but you would be surprised how quickly people grow to enjoy the process, once they understand it. I hope this will work in business also.
I like the linkage of 'holistic' to 'mentoring' !!
Marion, that's perceptive, that it can be all three; i tend to train people to see different roles.
Wendy, good point. It is a lovely way to travel the road of personal development.
I like the idea of enjoyment coming in the process Marion, how important do you think this is?
Yes Wendy although when we coach people we are also benefiting from the experience.
I think one of the positive aspects of both mentoring and coaching is that it challenges the 'quick fix' expectation of development events. Indeed, it actually can promote the advatnages of sustained longer term development
has anyone ideas on the issue of choosing a coach or mentor? Coach often equals your manager? How are people finding mentors,a nd who are they?
Andrea I agree. And all business is very objectives based these days. But it is important that mentoring can also travel the road it needs to without too much restriction. A good programme should provide the opportunity for menee and mentor to know where they have travelled and what they have achieved.
Peter, it's very important. Without this it will not work. However as with all good things there is often pain before there is pleasure!
In a schools environment we use business mentors or retired business people. It is a good way of improving all the areas mentioned before plus gives a workplace feel.
The way I find mentors is the same way I let people find me, I let them probe and question wherever they want to go, without any fear on my part, and I find that the trust potential is registered, and then off you go. Let your instincts tell you.
I agree Peter. And with coaches I often wonder if the manager is the right person to do the job?
Michael's point about careful selection of coach is important - it shouldn't just be the manager. We've used a counsellor recently, and a key part of this relationship was an initial meeting to see of the relatinoship suited both sides.
Andrea: often they're not - too many role conflicts and they don't make the time
Peter I like the sound of that. It is how we encouraged people to undertake mentoring on the project I was involved previously. Be prepared to talk about anything. Very open and honest.
I'm not sure either Andrea, I think they have to be able to set their needs to please their bosses aside, in order to meet you, and many are too unsure or scared to do that.
I suspect that a coach can be appointed but a mentoring relationship evolves.
There are organisations that provide coach training. How important is 'accreditation' for you if you are seeking coaches? Or would you be more interested in personal qualities?
What training is avaiable for interested people?
Wendy I think that is often true, although you can ask someone to be a mentor (I've been asked this a number of times and the relationship has evolved from there).
I believe personal qualities are more important as a trusting relationship needs to be formed before any coaching can begin
If coaching is more about skills then it is difficult to see how it might be transferable, whereas mentoring is very much about personal qualities and how you go about the process as much as it is about knowledge. Knowledge can be found, personal qualities in the first place are hard to achieve.
Andrea, it gives some initial credibility with some clients, but it doens't match coach to coachee
I've found that I can't make anyone trust me, it's up to them, and the less expectation I put on them trusting me, the easier, open and more honest it becomes.
Does anyone have any recommendations for Jo's earlier questions about good sources of coach training?
In mentoring circles accreditation has become a very important issue. But many feel it must be treated with caution if not you will change the process of mentoring. It will not be able to be what it started out as.
I feel there could be too much emphasis on 'absolute' personal qualities, just as there are on skills and job labels; it's whether the two sets of personalitites can make it togther which matters I feel.
Or good books, etc. I like John Whitmore's 'Coaching for Performance' (I think that's the title)
There are a number of places - online there's coach university ( and there are other coaching web sites. If anyone's interested I can send them info after the session. A search on the web brought up some coach training organisations in the UK but they tend to be London-based.
Accreditation is often looked for in the business world when people come to be mentors as part of management development but really what is needed is a well run programme of mentoring which includes monitoring, evaluation, matching of mentees and mentors and ongoing support and training for mentors.
Shouldn't coaches be coached? and isn't caoching better done in small chunks? How does that relate to a training programme? i use Max Landsberg's the Tao of Coaching
Marion, i agree about the whole programme being seen as a "project"
As trainers what extra skills or qualities do we need to develop to offer coaching? Do we need a separate 'coach' training course?
Interesting. In the counselling world, accreditation is via BAC. It's a condition of membership, I think, that all counselling members are themselves in superviion.
I think there are different skills required in coaching than in larger group work
I feel the difficulty with accreditiation is that people get too focused on pleasing a disinterested party; what maters is did/is the client getting what they want. I've even done this to GCE 'O' Level students, when I've said to them, you're the customer, you tell me if/when you've had enough.
Andrea if we have 'coach' training we are in danger of becoming just 'coaches' and again it brings up back to the question of what is mentoring? is it coaching or something different? Mentoring involves coaching but it also involves many other things. The core skills of mentoring are what are needed along with a real understanding of what mentoring is.
Andrea, do you think people should have more than one coach or mentor?
coaching is more personal and different key behaviours need to be strengthened so therefore a separate coaching programme cna be useful
i think listening and questioning are essential coach skills, but then I think they're skills for managers too
Peter I think that it dependent on what you are wanting to achieve with your coach/mentor.
Peter, re getting what you want, quite agree. That's what its all about.
Peter, it might be about knowledge and skills. We all have different people in our lives who support us in different ways for different reasons. Maybe the same applies??
Marion that's a good point although I think mentors also need training to make sure they are absolutely clear about what their role involves.
Agree Andrea absolutely and often programmes do not success because this part has been missed out. Its as if somehow they will know whats expected and how to continue.
Which leads me to my next thought, based on a core business principle I use, how do we know beforehand, when we are likely to have met the mentee/coachee's needs. Are we unsure of what our role is, because the client hasn't been made to focus on their desired outcome, even in a loose way?
Good afternoon Alison - we're talking about skills and qualities of mentors/coaches
Andrea, mentors also need to be supported with training that is onging to give them the knowledge they might need within whatever context they are mentoring in.
Do we sometimes need a mentor to help us discover what it is we DO want ?
Absolutely Marion. I have been in mentoring situations where I haven't received support or guidance on specific issues and it can be very difficult.
Nice thought Jo, I think I'd go along with that, and maybe some of our mentors aren't as obvious as we think.
Peter, agree; it would be very demotivating to coach or mentor without goals, and achievement
Peter and Jo. Yes knowing what we do want is difficult although it is interesting to do a pre assessment to check out objectives and then monitor these throughout the process to see how they are being met and to see what else is achieved at the end of the process.
Yes Jo. Often what we need is someone to listen and question without judgement to help us define what we want.
A mentor can also help you discover the path you intended to take is not the correct one, which was very useful in my experience
Footnote to my last comment. Sometimes the outcome is completely different to what the mentee expected but very much what the mentor might have been expecting after a very short time of working with someone.
Fran, yes mentoring is about raising awareness and seeing what before you couldn't.
Welcome David.
Like that Marion, I've found it useful in my mentoring to always keep a flexible mind as to any outcome being possible, without imposing restrictions on the learning opportuunity
I find it's important to hold to the aim of stimulating and encouraging the coachee/mentee to discover own goals and solutions and to get out of the way myself ie resist feeding in my view
Yes it's about setting a direction rather than a goal.
Andrea, quite agree re support and guidance and I think this is where mentoring circles are trying hard to change things. Its where most of my research is conducted at the moment.
Andrea, like the idea of direction, much more mentoring feel than goals, even though ultimately it is goals we achieve.
Alison Clark - Hi,sorry folks -failed to identify myself above
Yes Peter, mentoring should definitely not be about restriction and I think again that is its strength to the individual.
I like the idea of direction too, because as in anything, even flying a balloon, up isn't always the most appropriate direction, sometimes down is good too.
Alison, you are identified automatically by the system
What tools are you using in your mentoring/coaching relationships? Is listening/questioning enough? Or are you using training exercises/assignments?
Great point Peter.
Welcome Cecilia
Andrea are you asking about us as coaches or mentors, or as trainers of them?
Andrea, in my last mentoring role I used a combination of both. It was good to use some exercise especially if you want something to look back over after the process has ended. It also helps the individual to recapture the feel of what they went through , especially as there is a lowering after the event.
Welcome to a very active workshop Cecilia! You'll not be able to see the earlier transcript in your window, but it will be published this afternoon on the Workshop page of TrainingZone
coaches and mentors initially
Thanks, Tim. I'm here to "listen" today
Andrea, I've not used any exercises, but i think coaches need to advise, demonstrate and tell; mentors it's a different story and it needs to be mentee led
I think everyone learns by "doing" and if it can be "on the job" so much the better!
I use the same key principles as I use in coaching businesses strategically, which is establish what I call 'The Reason for Beign' and then use that to cross-check the functions, including learning, support, actually deliver on that reason. And that's how you get success you want.
we are using group forums as an extra as our coaches are all new
Andrea, tools, it is very important to be able to reflect and give feedback. Also summing up as often the mentee doesn't hear what they have said - if that makes sense.
For my own part I often give people exercises/assignments to carry out between meetings to keep a focus and develop ideas discussed at our meetings
Michael, not all coaches would see it that way -some follow a person-centred pr client-led approach, feeding in suggestions and exercises as the need arises.
Yes Marion I think that is really important
Alison, I think it is very important to be able to challenge when necessary, and again that is why mentoring is so different to counselling but more like coaching but really not either.
It makes perfect sense Marion, I've even had people not see what they've seen!
Yes I think that mentoring and coaching have a lot in common, but counselling is often dealing with difficult issues which a mentor/coach may not feel comfortable or qualified to deal with. They need to know the boundaries here.
Alison, i think that's where it comes back to what you call the process; which is less important for me than haveing a clear "contract" about what it is
Andrea, I think a stimulus to meet in the future is very important, from my work with how the brain works practically, it performs well when it is given something relevant, if not immediately obvious to deal with.
Yes boundaries become part of the support and training as often problems arise when a mentor feels they ought to be able to do everything.
yes andrea, I agree, I don't believe a client-led approach rules out challenge. Have I missed working definitions of coaching and mentoring? If you've cocverd that, I'll read it later on transcript. if not, would anyone like to contribute their distinctions?
Yes Alison we discussed that earlier.
Good point Peter
Sorry, have to leave now. Its been great talking with you all. Look forward to the transcript. Bye.
Goodbye Marion - thanks for your contributions.
I don't use client or mentor-led, because I find it triggers subtle, disruptive control regimes, I use the concept of WITH, adn idffering levels of interaction are OK, just like in this workshop
We've only got a few minutes left - does anyone want to raise other points re mentoring/coaching? Or have questions for the group?
Can I ask what folks think about coaching via email?
Thanks for welcoming a newcomer to this format! Bye for now.
Thank you for letting me sit in.
Cautiously - would people here say that someone giving guidance, exercises and feedback to another is "mentoring" or "coaching"? And do
David, OK I think, depends on people stretching their minds into the other person''s corner
Bye Alison. A good question David, especially given the earlier comments about personal qualities being so important in the relationship.
It takes away the personal contact but if objectives are set and both parties are happy with the arrangement
Bye Wendy.
(oops!) And does the process have to be F2F? Thanks David, one of the things I wanted to ask!
I agree Fran, and often if we are working with the right person for us, a non face to face approach is the only practical way.
As we wind down, I'd like to give a big THANKS to Andrea. I'll post this transcript to the Workshop page (Reports area) this afternoon. If you want someone's email, click on their name.
Thanks for more insight on a newish topic for me (the practicalities anyway!), Bye
Thanks for the insight, look forward to reading the transcript
Thanks Tim, and everyone. I've really enjoyed the session although it's been far more exhausing than I thought!
We're always looking for new workshop ideas and leaders - so please step forward anyone interested and email me.
Thanks for the insight, sorry for being late, regards
thanks to everyone, thanks Andrea for the prompts and ideas, bye
Thanks, Goodbye fromTulsa
Thanks to all - looking fwd to the transcript. 'Bye!
And any other site ideas you have - just let us know!!
Thanks everybody, especially Andrea, for a great session, bye


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