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Improving Productivity Through Coaching and Mentoring
Although coaching and mentoring seem similar on the surface, the two techniques — and their applications — can have substantially different effects in the workplace.
Although executive coaching receives quite a bit of press in the management development community, mentoring is a less understood and less common development technique. That might soon change, however.
Although there are some superficial similarities between coaching and mentoring, the differences — and, more important, the application of the two techniques — are often substantial. In fact, some organizations find mentoring is less expensive and provides a greater impact than coaching.
Coaching generally comes in the form of one-on-one sessions between a manager and his or her coach. (Although there is team coaching, it is less popular.)
More often, though, organizations use external coaches. In some organizations, however, there is a desire to hire or train more internal coaches, especially in larger organizations that can afford to have full-time coaches on staff.
Coaching assignments range across a spectrum in terms of their goals, but two common themes are communication and interpersonal skill building. Typically, coaching assignments are finite and designed to help a manager build a skill or improve performance in a few specified areas. Coaches often have professional backgrounds in industrial psychology or organizational behavior, and some have certificates from at least one coaching industry organization.
Mentoring is defined as a relationship between two people in which a more experienced person agrees to support the development of a less experienced person, traditionally viewed as a protégé and today often referred to as a “mentee.”
Organization-sponsored formal mentoring is meant to meet specific objectives, is structured and might be one part of a broader development program. Informal mentoring is less structured and may be initiated by either the mentor or mentee, or it might evolve through existing work relationships.
Mentor/mentee assignments are crucial and typically are made with someone outside a person’s reporting structure and even in a different division. Mentors typically are selected from within the organization and don’t have any professional training or certification in the practice. The process is intended to help the protégé learn the ropes of a new culture or how things get done in the organization, to expose a high-potential employee to more senior roles or offer insight into the politics of an organization.
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