The past few years have been rough on everybody. Companies of every size and across every industry have had to embrace creative problem-solving to navigate the challenges. Despite all of the efforts that have gone into maintaining a semblance of normal, some problems have proven to be tough to manage. One of the most common is high turnover and related problems with recruiting and retention.
Coaching and mentorship are two strategies that can help improve company culture, increase engagement, and impact retention. Companies that invest in coaching and mentoring enjoy the benefits of a proactive approach to continuity. They act now to be ready for growth when it comes.
Leadership development is a multi-billion-dollar industry in this country. Many companies struggle to understand how much they should be investing in training and what kinds of training to prioritize. It’s important to understand the similarities and differences between coaching and mentoring. It’s equally important to know why it’s worth the investment, how to get your money’s worth, and where to start.
How can your organization harness the power of coaching and mentoring to outperform the competition in these challenging times? How can you tap into the potential of coaching and mentoring to take control of the trajectory of your career?
Coaching or Mentoring
Sometimes the terms coaching and mentoring get used interchangeably. Our goal here isn’t to be the language police of your corporate culture. But there are some important differences between the two concepts that are worth pointing out.
Maybe you need one more than the other.
Maybe you need to make a plan for both coaching and mentoring.
The Center for Creative Leadership (CLC) notes that “coaching typically focuses on enhancing current job performance by helping someone resolve a here-and-now issue or blockage.”
They go on to state that Human Resources leaders can use coaching at every level of their organization to develop crucial skills.
The CLC distinguishes mentoring from coaching in the following way: “Rather than helping someone resolve a current challenge, a mentor helps their mentee to become more capable in the near future. Mentors take time to guide and advise their mentees.”
So, an easy way to keep the two initiatives straight would be to say that coaching focuses on solving the challenges of today while mentorship is a proactive approach to anticipated challenges.
Create a Culture of Coaching
A coaching culture can yield benefits across your entire organization. Does your corporate culture encourage feedback? Do you promote candid conversations across departments and levels of your organization? Do you see collaboration and alignment come out of these conversations?
If the answer to all of these questions is “yes”, congratulations! You’re right where you need to be.
If you need some guidance to help you get there as an organization, here are some suggestions:
- Encourage Active Listening: Listening with an open mind, empathy, and common goals at the forefront of your mind can help colleagues identify both problems and solutions in the status quo.
- Ask Direct Questions: Empathy and trust are the foundation of coaching culture. If the coaches and those who are being coached aren’t comfortable communicating about problems, they’ll struggle to identify and implement solutions.
- Coaching Requires Accountability: Coaches have to issue challenges that give people opportunities to do better. But they also have to provide the support that people need to successfully navigate those challenges.
- Agree to Act: Coaching sessions should do more than just analyze the past. They should establish a plan for future action and outline the goals for improvement and success.
Support Successful Mentoring
Organizations that operate without a mentoring plan often find themselves promoting from within out of necessity. Unfortunately, this “putting out fires” approach to leadership development typically yields poor results for the organization. At the same time, it sets individuals up for failure. When emerging leaders are given a “baptism by fire” they often struggle. This can lead to frustration and turnover.
Are the emerging leaders in your organization being groomed for the next steps in their career path?
If you need to solve the leadership problems you will have in 3 to 5 years, the time to start is now.
- Think Strategically: Because mentoring takes time, you should set up your mentoring program to achieve the results you’ll want to see in the future—Not the solutions you need right now.
- Secure Buy-In: What good is a mentorship program without mentors? Before you launch the program, you need to get current leaders excited about their roles. You may also need to provide them with the training and support they need to feel confident.
- Set Reasonable Goals: Ironing out the wrinkles will take time and require some flexibility from everyone involved. It’s a good idea to pilot a mentorship program with a select few who can help work through these challenges before expanding.
- Plan for Development: As you expand your mentorship program, be prepared to offer continuing support and necessary coaching to both mentors and mentees.
- Monitor and Optimize: Just having a mentorship program isn’t good enough to solve your organization’s leadership challenges. You’ll need to establish KPIs, measure performance, and intervene to make improvements.
Why You Need Leadership Development
Some organizations think that the cost of leadership development is too high. If your organization lacks the resources to develop in-house coaching and mentoring programs, then finding a trusted partner to outsource the work to is a great alternative. One thing is for certain, the cost of leadership development is low compared to the full scope of what it costs an organization to stay stuck in neutral.
How Leadership Mentoring Works
A recent advice column from Michael Page argued that “leadership development strategies should be high on the list of priorities for any organization.”
The article outlined the strategic pillars that form the foundation of a successful mentoring program.
Development strategies should address the need to expose emerging leaders to the full scope of your organization as well as the broader industry.
Leadership development gets better results when it allows participants to experience different roles within the organization and understand challenges from multiple perspectives.
Coaching and mentoring have to be more than a classroom exercise. Giving emerging leaders real challenges helps to develop critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills.
Effective development strategies resist the urge to micro-manage. Future leaders may not make the decisions that a senior leader would have. But they need to know the organization supports them as they explore future roles.
A structured approach to coaching and mentoring provides opportunities to deliver candid feedback and constructive criticism. Becoming a better manager or leader is a process. Feedback leads to progress.
Development strategies should recognize the commitment that participants make and reward their personal investment in the future of the organization.
When Is the Best Time To Invest in Future Leaders?
There’s no time like the present!
The Modern Management Program is ready to be your partner for coaching and mentoring. We’re ready to go whenever you are.
Give us a call to discuss the different resources that are available through the three tiers of our program. We’ll help you find the right solutions right now and select a strategy for future success.