The Bottom-Line Value of Coaching and Mentoring in the Business World

What you should know before you engage

In a hypercompetitive world where professionals are all in the rat race to beat their peers to the next big position, for a salary bump or for a handsome bonus, organizations find coaching and mentoring an important part of professional development for their employees. We have found that there are two types of managers; 1) those who believe in coaching and 2) those who do not. However, the ones who do not believe in the importance of coaching or mentoring their employees are not necessarily bad — they just feel it is better to learn by making mistakes so it is truly a learning experience for you.

A crucial article by Harvard Business Review (HBR) titled, “4 Reasons Managers Should Spend More Time Coaching” suggests that coaching and mentoring is one of the most important tools in the managerial tool kit and it essentially can make the manager stand out from the rest. A manager may not be a professional coach or mentor but generally has a lot to offer in terms of teaching their employees. These topics include how things are done, or how to manage crises and how to make decisions after weighing the pros and cons of the circumstances.

Managers already have a lot on their plate — they have to supervise their team, act as a point of contact between the upper management and the lower staff as well as manage the department overall. So the question arises, why do they so readily make coaching a top priority in their hectic schedule? Read on to understand why coaching and mentoring in the business sector can make a world of a difference, not only in terms of professional development from the employee perspective, but also how it benefits the organization overall.

A Valuable Tool for Attaining Business Goals
Managers are not interested in coaching and mentoring just because they are nice people. They do this to get results! Personal involvement is considered an important factor in the development of talent that ultimately leads to business success. Most managers find it hard to coach their employees proactively because of time constraints but that should not be a problem if you take it seriously as a ‘must-have’ rather than ‘nice to have’.

Managers also believe they have to take the time out to coach as a strategy to retain their emerging leaders and the ones who have potential but need a slight push to thrive in the organization. Another reason why coaching is an essential part of training and development is because finding and recruiting promising talent is hard. It is more profitable to help train and develop skills of those employees who are already part of the team.

The Joy of Seeing People Thrive
Managers like to believe that people at entry-level positions have the potential to rise to the top but to make that happen, they must develop their skills. They believe that people at the beginner’s level are in need an experienced professional or a coaching manager to help them realize their ambitions and career path in the organization. This is not a simple task. The manager’s coaching style must be adapted to the individual’s level to connect with them at the more personal level. Some beginners need constant reassurance, while others easily operate on auto-pilot. As a manager, your responsibility is to gradually bring them out of their comfort zone through feedback and engagement.

Digging Deeper to Gain Valuable Insights
Managers who coach and mentor their subordinates usually have one thing in common — they are curious. They are always asking questions to understand what is going on within the organization — new opportunities waiting to be discovered, where the gaps lie, and how things can be done differently. This give-and-take between the mentor and the learner is a win-win for both. The learner feels comfortable enough to share their mistakes, doubts, perceptions and successes freely so they can reflect upon it together.

Interest in Establishing and Developing Connections
Every employee has a different mindset. Some have the ‘Tough, I can take it’ attitude while others long for a trusting, connected relationship where the coach listens to their problems and helps them arrive at a conclusion. As a mentor, you have to intelligently read your mentee and adjust their coaching style accordingly. One wrong move and the learner will begin to feel intimidated by you, and now you will need to devote a lot of additional time to digging out of the hole you just dug.

At the end of the day, everyone has a job to do. Employees regardless of whether they are at the mid-level or executive level are important and they can be replaced but together, they can establish a stronger bond that helps the younger lot in terms of career development and the organization overall as they feel their contribution is valued.

What Makes a Good Coach or Mentor Truly Great?
Whether you have started coaching already or you are planning to coach in the near future, here are three steps to become a great coach or mentor.

  • First, watch and learn. If you have a mentor in your organization, learn from them and ask them to show you how it is done. Ask them why they started coaching in the first place and learn from their experiences.
  • Second, make the learner feel comfortable in order to gain their trust. No coaching method is better than being able to listen to your learner without making them feel uncomfortable.
  • Third, get to know the basics of managerial coaching as you gain experience. Being a mentor does not mean you have to know all the answers. Sometimes you just have to ask the right open-ended questions and keep the conversation flowing so the individual can reflect and arrive at a conclusion on their own.

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I hope you found this article useful in learning about coaching and mentoring. You can discover more Management and Leadership knowledge on our website www.MagnaLeadership.com and please “Like” our Facebook page so that you can get your daily Leadership tips at: http://www.facebook.com/MagnaLeadership

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Thank you, 
 Dr. Kevin