Special Issue on: Strategies for Coaching/Mentoring

The workplace has changed. Today’s employees want to feel that they contribute to the collective success of their team. According to recent studies employees place high value on having opportunities to learn and to develop themselves while on the job. With the current problem of skills shortage in many industries, managers need to explore ways to provide workers with what they want in order to retain the best employees.

One way that organizations can contribute to the employees overall job satisfaction and improved productivity is to provide a “mentoring” or “coach like” role for employees. Controlling and dominating are no longer ways to motivate. Coaching/mentoring is about human development.

Deborah J. Martin in Workplace Today, identifies the following steps for coaching:

  1. Put your own “stuff” to the side and make yourself available.
  2. Ask more questions, make fewer declarations, allowing employees to generate solutions.
  3. Really listen to the people you work with and implement suggested solutions.
  4. Create action plans with your employees.
  5. Learn to celebrate success and say thank you.
  6. Build on people’s strengthens rather than weaknesses.
  7. Sustain the momentum and follow up on progress.

Coaching and mentoring will not solve all the problems at the workplace but it is one step towards a commitment from managers to develop employees and help create corporate culture, which support and sustain human achievement in the workplace.

The definition of coaching is the process of equipping people with tools, knowledge and opportunities they need to fully develop themselves to be effective in their commitment to themselves, the organization and their work.

Many organizations have identified coaching/mentoring as a critical leadership and management competency. It appears more employees are asking for coaching. Coaching is a professional discipline and skill set which enhances performance, action, creativity, momentum and transformation.

Coaching/mentoring is not management skills re-packaged, coaching on the other hand draws on certain management skills and competencies. Coaching/mentoring deals with employee growth, development and achievement by removing roadblocks to performance and enhancing creativity.

Coaching/mentoring provides not only a context for feedback but also a process to support changed behaviour. The best workplace coaches are those who understand and develop their own coaching style, rather than following a cookie cutter approach, those who know how to “flex” their style to coach others and who can use the coaching process and concepts effectively through understanding and skill development.

Successful organizations have discovered that on-going training of the workforce is necessary to remain competitive. However, without coaching or mentoring training loses its effectiveness rapidly and often fails to achieve the lasting behavioural changes needed.

Coaching/mentoring has never been more necessary than now and into the future. Change will be the norm and individual resilience and performance will be crucial to team and organizational success. Coaching/mentoring sustains individual strengths and abilities for maximum performance.

The Importance of Mentoring

I never realized the importance of mentoring until I became involved in the process. I was fortunate in meeting an individual in the mediation field, for which I had a keen interest. The process began with a simple meeting where my mentor provided me with a plethora of contacts of people who could provide me with information on mediation. Before our initial meeting, I was very eager to become involved in mediation, but didn’t know where to start. The contacts were a starting point for which I could gain more information from other individuals in the field. Since our initial meeting, my mentor has continuously provided me with information that would otherwise be unknown to me. In retrospect, the process of mentoring provides advantages to all parties involved. In my experience, mentoring has given me a feeling of involvement in a community of individuals with a common interest. Further, by providing me with information on mediation, I also have a more specific focus on what aspect of mediation interests me more. It allows me to contact other individuals and gain more information than would otherwise be available to me.

For the mentor, the process of mentoring ensures the development of the profession by giving individuals who are interested in given field the opportunity to explore various aspects of that field.

In the field of mediation, where the empowerment of individuals is a corner stone, it is my belief that more mediation professionals should spend time mentoring individuals who have a keen interest in the field. It has worked for me.

Submitted by Cory Harris

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