I understand that it is possible to hire a business coach, but in what situations is it more appropriate to work with a mentor than with a business coach? And do some entrepreneurs work with both business coaches and mentors?
Before we go into the differences between coaching and mentoring, we must understand what each term signifies. In life, we often discourage failure and by doing so we subtly discourage success. The truth is, failure is inevitable, life is full of obstacles and nobody ever gets a smooth ride. Our role here is to get better at navigating those obstacles.
We must always see failure as an opportunity to learn something and get better. At the very least, failure makes us realize that there is something you are not doing right and gives you the urge to improve. It is the failures you encounter in life that pave the way for a successful future. Indeed, when we lose or fail, at any point in life, we start to ask questions instead of feeling like we have answers. And the questions open the doors to so many possibilities. It is in trying to find answers that we ultimately discover how to turn those losses into victories.
Over time coaching has developed from a hybrid of numerous influences, including psychology, communications and learning theory. The modern idea of coaching goes back to the 1970s when a Harvard sports coach named Timothy Gallwey wrote a book called The Inner Game of Tennis. He expounded a new methodology for coaching and for the development of personal and professional excellence in a variety of fields. On the surface this book is about tennis and how to play it better but is about human psychology, development, and learning. Besides sport his training methods have been applied to business, health, and education. Gallwey was one of the first to demonstrate a comprehensive method of coaching that could be applied to many situations. In fact, he found himself lecturing more to business leaders in the US than to sports people. One of the best-known exponents of business coaching is Sir John Whitmore who popularised Graham Alexander’s and Alan Fine’s GROW model of the coaching process. Coaching is where one person, the coach, guides another person (the coachee or learner) to improve their performance through new knowledge, skills, and behaviours by turning activities into learning opportunities in a planned, purposeful, and systematic way. Consequently, knowledge of learning theories and techniques is extremely useful. Coaching can be done on the sports field with athletes or in the office with managers or staff. It can be done on an individual basis and with teams. In addition, to individual coaching, teams work together and coach each other.
Although its roots are in psychology, coaching should not be confused with psychotherapy or counselling. It deals with mentally healthy people who want to improve rather than people with psychological problems such as depression or anxiety. Coaches should know the basics of psychotherapy so that they are able to identify the symptoms of psychological problems and know when to recommend the services of a psychotherapist when needed. Studies conducted by the University of Sydney, for example, have found that between 25 per cent and 50 per cent of those seeking coaching have clinically significant levels of anxiety, stress, or depression.
Coaching differs from mentoring – it is skills and performance related rather than development and growth orientated. For example, coaching may target specific problems such as communication, assertiveness, time management and interpersonal skills. An external person usually does the coaching whereas an internal manager or suitable employee usually does the mentoring. However, there are more similarities between coaching and mentoring than differences.
Coaching is one-on-one and just-in-time whereas training is one-on-many and can often be considered to be just-in-case. Training has a significant downside compared to coaching as managers usually find it difficult to find the time to attend courses, conferences, workshops, and seminars. Coaching provides constant feedback without taking considerable time away from the job. The coach comes to the manager or employee rather than the manager or employee going to the learning facilitator. Training may involve travelling and overnight stays. There is a low transfer of knowledge and skills from training to the actual work situation. Learning can take place in minutes but changing behaviour does not happen overnight and can take months or even years. Therefore, coaching is more successful in changing behaviour. In a training course, there is also lack of opportunity to practise skills. Thus, training lacks the immediate relevancy of coaching. Training is usually generic with its one-size-fits-all approach. It tries to address the perceived needs of many. In some cases, the participants on a training programme are from different companies and different occupations and thus their needs are extraordinarily complex and almost impossible to meet on a generic course. The information presented on generic courses quickly becomes out of date. Thus, much of training is irrelevant. Coaching is usually one-to-one targeting the precise and current training needs of the individual. Because of its personal nature it can cater for the unique learning style of the adult learner (coachee). Research shows that if the learning styles of the coach and coachee match the learning is likely to be more effective and permanent. Conversely, formal training finds it difficult to cater for the varied learning styles of participants. The average training course is often a once off event lasting one to three days, whereas coaching is continuous and may last from anything from a few weeks up to a year or more. Coaching is more flexible than training. Depending on the needs of the coachee live coaching can be supplemented by sessions over the phone. Training programs are designed around objectives determined by the trainer whereas the coaching process is client driven. The outcome and benefits of training are often difficult to measure. The outcome of coaching can be observed immediately in the improved skills and changed behaviour applied in the workplace. Thus, specific measurable goals are more feasible to set for coaching.
In coaching you learn by doing actual work. In formal training you learn not through actual work situations but away from the job by lecture, discussion, case study, role-play, and simulations. In coaching you get instant feedback on your performance and opportunities for reflection enabling you to take corrective action. The feedback from formal training is delayed and very often neglected and the participant may not get the opportunity to apply the learning. Because of lack of currency, relevancy and reflection, the type of learning experienced in formal training is surface learning and is quickly forgotten. This is so because it has no immediate application in the workplace. In coaching, because of the currency, relevancy, immediate application, and reflection involved, the type of learning is deep and permanent. There are some basic differences between coaching and consulting. Consulting provides short-term solutions for the client, while coaching is a continuous relationship that assists the client in implementing new skills, changes, and both short and long-term goals. Another difference is that consultants often provide advice, while coaches encourage clients to use their own creativity and resources to discover solutions and become self-sufficient. This helps to build client’s self-esteem and self-confidence so that they can trust their own decisions and rely less on outside help in the future.
There are various types of coaching:
1. Sports coaching: Consider the sports coach. They help you with extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. The extrinsic motivation comes from the coach. You want to improve, and you don’t want to let them down. They vigorously direct operations from the side-line. They are passionate and committed about their sport. They develop objectives and implement a game plan and get great satisfaction from watching their players develop, excel, and grow. Intrinsic motivation comes from within – the love of learning, need for personal growth, fulfilment and self-actualisation and the desire to satisfy a curiosity. The sport coach plays back DVDs of the game to learn from their mistakes and continually improve and learn. They hold players personally responsible for their performance and provide constructive feedback to them in order to improve their game. While accepting that individual stars are useful, they realise that it is teamwork and team spirit that wins the game. This was proved when a mediocre Greek team defied all the odds and won the European Football Championship in 2004. It was also proved when Iceland against all the odds beat England in the European Championship in 2016. Similarly, nobody expected Portugal to beat France to win the championship in 2016. Sport coaches are now a feature of all competitive sports and athletic events. One would not expect a person to compete in the Olympics or professional sport without the guidance of a coach. It is now accepted that even the best athletes can improve with the expertise, experience, skills, encouragement, and guidance of a good coach. A competent coach can inspire, motivate, and challenge good players to even better performance. They exhort players to try harder and remind them to maintain their focus in the rough and tumble of competitive sport. Even people at the top of their game have a coach. Teams usually employ a sports psychologist and health and sports scientists to help them reach peak performance levels. Elite performers engage in deliberate sustained practice to hone their skills. They must work diligently at what they are not good at. They must go from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence to conscious competence and finally to unconscious competence. They need the eyes and ears of a coach to make them aware of where they fall short and bring them to the stage where the necessary skills becomes a habit. Coaches have a variety of approaches to achieve their objectives such as showing what other elite performers do, reviewing DVDs of the client’s performance or just pointing out to them where they need to improve.
2. Business coaching: Unlike sports coaching which has a win-lose orientation, business coaching has a win-win philosophy. In sport it is all about winning at the expense of your opponent. In contrast your company does not have to win at the expense of a competitor. Two companies collaborating might achieve more than two competing. There is also a difference in approach between sport and workplace coaching. Sports coaches coach their athletes, using technical skills, experience, and a ‘telling’ style of direction. By contrast, questioning and reflection are often more important in workplace coaching. Another vital difference between the two is that athletes spend most of their time training, and comparatively little time working. This contrasts with the business world where executives spend all their time working and truly little time training. Nevertheless, both types of coaching need to understand how people work together harmoniously to maximise results and to achieve the overall goal. Finally, when it has achieved its goal the coaching continues as it takes the learner from its current performance and plans for the future. It is important to instil a coaching mindset in the team, whether a sports team or a business team. The primary purpose of a business or executive coach is to improve business results. The primary purpose of a sports coach is to win at games or in competition. A business coach needs a deep understanding of the business and industry issues the coachee must cope with in each situation. Because of the substantial cost involved business coaching is usually reserved for senior management or those highflyers with senior management potential. BASF Corporation in the USA offers three types of coaching, executive level coaching, transition coaching for first time leaders and accelerated coaching for staff with high management potential. Every time an executive goes into a new role the company offers three-to-five-month transition coaching. The company offers longer periods of up to nine months for accelerated coaching – coaching that is not tied to a new role but rather is intended to prepare staff for the next step in their careers.
3. Peer and personal (life) coaching: The primary purpose of a peer coach is to develop themselves and their fellow employee through sharing expertise and helping each other on specific tasks and problems. Peers can provide emotional and psychological support that helps individual learning and career success. In peer coaching the emphasis is on the voluntary non-evaluative and mutually beneficial partnership between two individuals of similar experience. It helps individuals develop their self-reflection skills and identify areas in need of skills development. Peer coaching is widely used in business and education. The primary purpose of a personal coach or life coaching is to develop the individual and improve their personal performance. However, executive coaches may also address the personal growth and development needs of the individual such as communication and presentation skills. The personal coach will focus on relationships, life decisions, career choices, stress management and lifestyle issues such as fitness, diet, and health. Many people have been inspired to become life coaches because of the visibility and financial success of the industry’s superstars such as Tony Robbins. Originally an American concept, personal coaching is making inroads on this side of the Atlantic.
Mentoring is a reciprocal learning experience in which a mentor and mentee agree to work collaboratively toward achievement of mutually defined learning goals. Megginson and Clutterbuck, in Techniques for Coaching and Mentoring define mentoring as follows: “Mentoring relates primarily to the identification and nurturing of potential for the whole person. It can be a long-term relationship, where the goals may change but are always set by the learner. The learner owns both the goals and the process.” Feedback comes from within the mentee – the mentor helps them to develop insight and understanding through intrinsic observation, i.e., becoming more aware of their own experiences. Mentoring can be used in all sorts of areas such as acting, entertainment, art, music, writing, fashion design, athletics, golf, boxing, football, soccer, science, architecture, teaching, and politics as well as business.
In many cultures elders routinely pass on their lifetime experience and wisdom to the younger generation. The concept of mentoring first appears in classical Greek mythology. The story goes that circa 1200 BC when Odysseus, an Ithacan noble, went off to the Trojan War, he left Mentor, a trusted advisor, in charge of his house and the education of his son Telemachus. Mentor’s role was to teach, advise, guide and nurture Telemachus. Similarly, Socrates (469–399 BC), Greek philosopher and founder of Western moral philosophy, was a mentor to the Greek philosopher Plato (429–347). Socrates wrote nothing himself and we rely on his mentee Plato to give us a vivid picture of the achievements of Socrates. Plato in turn was a mentor to the Greek philosopher Aristotle. Aristotle in turn mentored Alexander the Great (356–323 BC) the great leader and conqueror. The Chinese saying bai-shi-xui-ye means bow to the master for apprenticeship. This saying could also be considered the origin of the mentoring relationship. According to the ancient Chinese perspective, because mentors acted as lifelong guides, they were responsible for instilling, knowledge, skills, and values in their students. In Europe in the Middle Ages the craft guilds were founded. These were trade unions for the skilled craftsmen of the time such as painters, sculptors, and stonemasons. New entrants or apprentices to the trade were appointed to learn at the side of skilled craftsmen. It involved the passing on of skills, knowledge, expertise, and wisdom from generation to generation. There is considerably academic research for the one-to-one support involved in apprenticeship. Benjamin Bloom (1913–1999) was an American educational psychologist. His famous ‘2 sigma’ study showed that students learn more effectively in a one-to-one work environment than in a classroom. One-to-one tutoring was so effective in Bloom’s experiments that it transformed a ‘C’ student into an ‘A’ student. This suggests that we are all capable of becoming an ‘A’ student when we learn from a personal tutor.
Almost a century earlier, Lev Vygotsky, a Russian educational psychologist, studied the one-to-one relationship between apprentices and their masters. He invented the phrase ‘zone of proximal development’ (ZPD) to explain why this tutoring system was effective. Vygotsky suggested that the more experienced master provided help for the apprentice to comprehend concepts just beyond their current level of understanding – the ‘zone.’ The idea is learning works best when the learner tackles something just outside their comfort zone – neither too difficult nor too easy. In a classroom situation, research found that it is best to arrange things so that children succeed 80 per cent of the time. More than that and children tend to get bored; less than that and they tend to get anxious and frustrated. The same is true of adults. Therefore, video game manufacturers have invested millions in testing their products to make sure that the level of challenge is exactly right – neither too easy nor too hard.
The apprenticeship processes:
1. Showing – where the master shares his thinking with the apprentice who becomes sufficiently intrigued and curious to want to know how to do it themselves. Much of the learning occurs as the apprentice observes the master at work. Observation gives the apprentice a model of the target task prior to attempting to execute it.
2. Coaching – the master shows the novice learner how to identify the sub tasks that have first to be completed, each with its own form of expertise. Coaching is the thread running through the entire apprenticeship process. The master evaluates the activities of the apprentice, offers encouragement, provides feedback, shows them the correct way to do things, reinforces their strengths and works on their weaknesses.
3. Scaffolding – he then provides scaffolding, support, and encouragement as the apprentice practices portions of the task for themselves. It may involve the master executing parts of the task that the apprentice cannot yet manage. This requires the master in diagnosing the apprentice’s current skill level so that he knows when to step in and when to hold back.
4. Fading – as more responsibility is passed to the apprentice, the master fades into the background gradually removing support as the apprentice becomes proficient enough to take on more responsibility and do the work independently.
5. Dialogue – through the whole of the apprentice/master relationship the novice learner shares ideas with other learners as they try to describe what they are doing and reflect on the outcome.
Now once we have understood what is mentoring and what is coaching, we will now look into the differences of both. A mentor is a person who guides, advises, nudges, supports, coaches, counsels and facilitates the learning and development of their mentee. The mentor seeks to build and instil wisdom – the ability to apply skills, knowledge and expertise to new situations and processes. They speak from experience because they have “been there and done that.” They can therefore act as credible role models. They adopt a friendly and non-judgemental style. As role models they should practice what they preach to win credibility, trust, and respect. The mentor acts as a trusted colleague, counsellor, sounding board and confidant. They challenge assumptions, reframe problems, and encourage wider thinking. From a credibility point of view, what the mentor does is more important than what they say – actions speak louder than words. Mentors who do not walk the talk quickly lose credibility. Mentoring differs from coaching in that mentoring is long term rather than short term and is done by someone other than the line manager. Mentoring is driven by the mentee and is based on asking good incisive questions. It does not have to be a formal process. It’s more concerned with helping the mentee determine what goals to pursue and why. Pure mentoring follows an open and evolving agenda and usually deals with a range of personal issues. Mentoring is voluntary and unpaid. However, external mentors may be paid. Mentoring and coaching can be ‘stand-alone’ activities, but they can also be used to complement each other.
A coach is more likely to use direct feedback, while a mentor relies on using questions – mainly open-ended questions. A coach is a specialist who works with the coachee on specific goals and objectives – the professional equivalent of a fitness trainer. A mentor is likely to have followed a similar career to the one the mentee is starting, passing on their unique knowledge and expertise. Coaches can be internal or external. Internal coaching is often done by the line manager and is specifically related to improving on-the-job skills and performance (see Chapter 8). An external coach is usually an outside professional consultant. The mentor needs to be ethical, impartial, and removed from the exigencies of the work situation and take the long-term learning and development needs of the mentee into account. In practice, the mentor will also coach the mentee as the situation dictates.
Neither coaching nor mentoring is about teaching, instruction or being told what to do. Both are about facilitation and guidance. The role of the mentor is not about solving problems, but to generate questions on how the best solutions might be found. They both respect confidentiality while focusing exclusively on the individual. How does mentoring differ from counselling? Counselling is giving professional advice to others on personal matters. Counselling may be part of what a mentor does, but mentoring is a much wider concept. The counselling concept approaches an issue from the point of view that the person being counselled knows best and the counsellor’s role is to facilitate the person to solve their own problems and arrive at their own conclusions. At the end of the day a person is the only one who has an intimate knowledge of their own problems. Three parties – the mentor, the mentee, and the organisation – experience the benefits of mentoring.
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call: https://clarity.fm/joy-brotonath