Module 2: Defining Coaching and Mentoring

Module Two: Defining Coaching and Mentoring

Before getting deeper into the subject of coaching, it is prudent to discuss mentoring and what it tries to achieve. Understanding the difference between coaching and mentoring will help you be clear on your coaching objective. Many times, these two concepts are misunderstood.

The goal of this module is to define both concepts and introduce a coaching model that will allow you to focus on improving performance. Let us begin by defining what coaching is.

What is Coaching?

A coach tutors or instructs a person to achieve a specific goal or skill. In baseball, a batting coach only focuses on the mechanics of hitting the ball. They spend time instructing the hitter how to change their swing to improve their performance. They give exercises and goals to the hitter that target the swing of the bat.

In the office environment, you may see similar coaches helping others improve a skill. They may be sales coaches or customer service coaches. No matter what the area of focus is, a coach specializes on improving one or two areas of development at a time.

Here is a recap of the characteristics of a coach:

  • Trainer
  • Instructor
  • Tutor
  • Focus on one or two skills at a time
  • Their interaction is planned and structured

What is Mentoring?

Mentoring has a different purpose and goal. Mentoring is the act of guiding, counseling, and supporting. This is vastly different from coaching. It is fundamentally teaching. However, the objective is slightly different.

Mentorship is more voluntary in nature and is less formal than coaching. The mentor and protégé endeavor on a broad development goal like becoming a leader. Mentoring encompasses many complex areas of development.

In your matching activity, we learned that coaching scenarios include the following:

  • Sales
  • Customer service
  • Production work
  • Behavioral issues like tardiness

Likewise, we learned that mentoring scenarios include the following:

  • Networking
  • Political strategizing
  • Negotiation
  • Managing

In this workshop, you will learn how to effectively coach; however, later, there will be a discussion on how to transition from a coach to a mentor. It should be a manager’s goal to develop their people in a way that furthers their career. Mentoring does this. For now, we are going to focus on coaching people for specific goals. The next lesson discusses an easy-to-remember coaching process.

Introducing the G.R.O.W. Model

Having a consistent and uniform approach to coaching enables you to coach more effectively with strategy and direction. Using a coaching model will also instill confidence in your employee, because they see a methodical approach. When we approach coaching haphazardly, we become disorganized and this creates frustrating coaching sessions.

The GROW model helps you organize your coaching process in a flow that identifies the goal first and ends with putting a plan together. Here are the details of the GROW model:

  • Goal setting: a goal has to be set in order to give direction and purpose to the coaching session. Ambiguous goals are usually never achieved. Setting the goal first shapes your discussion with your employee and sets the tone.
  • Reality check: both you and your employee must come to terms on the current state or level of performance or any issues that are causing breakdowns. Getting to the bottom of the problem begins with identifying it and claiming. From there obstacles are better identified.
  • Options developed: here you and your employee explore action steps that will help them improve their performance. Usually goals options that are prefabricated by an employee’s manager result in poor buy-in and missed goals. Allow your employee to explore options they develop.
  • Wrap it up with a plan: once you nail down an option or two, it is time to strike it down on paper so to speak. If it is not written down, it won’t happen. Creating a well-defined plan is essential in order to know the direction you need to go and to demonstrate success or failure.

GROW is simple yet powerful. Following the GROW process consistently will develop a natural process for you. Coaching should be natural. This puts you and your employee at ease, making the process more valuable and rewarding. Let us unpack the GROW model over the next few modules and see how to incorporate it into our daily work lives.

Case Study

Sharon was assigned to coach a new employee named Brad who worked in the sales department. Brad had been promising as an applicant, yet his sales did not live up to expectations. Sharon decided to have a meeting to determine the problem and create a plan to resolve it. First they decided upon a goal, which was to boost his sales. Sharon found out from Brad that customers had a hard time understanding him through his accent, so they looked at their options. After weighing the choices, Brad decided to attend a speech class. They created a plan that outlined what his expected sales would be and how they correlate to his progress in speech class. Brad eventually was able to reach those expectations, and Sharon had successfully coached him.