Developing and Implementing a Coaching and Mentoring Programme at Chiron Media Plc
Summary and purpose
After recent acquisitions, disposals and subsequent diversifications within Chiron Media’s activities a variety of development and learning needs have been identified. In line with our annual performance review process, a greater want for developing employees’ customer care and IT skills has clearly arisen as an urgent priority to better achieve current and changing business needs. To that end, the implementation of a robust Coaching and Mentoring Programme available to all has been put forward as an effective and efficient solution to respond to those demands.
As no formal Coaching and Mentoring programmes currently exist within the organisation’s Learning and Development Framework, and no proper training has been provided per se, it is important that initial discussions are focused on:
• Defining Coaching and Mentoring
• Evaluating their benefits, purpose, parallels and potential limitations
• Different types of Coaching and Mentoring
• Evaluating the role of different stakeholders, mainly line managers in the process
• Factors to consider before, during and after the implementation stage
• Measuring the programme’s success and assessing the next steps
Coaching and Mentoring at a Glance
According to the CIPD’s 2011 Survey Report on the UK’s Current Coaching Climate, over 77% of the UK’s businesses are using Coaching and Mentoring as part of their Learning and Talent development programmes and wider workforce planning strategies. Expenditure and budgets allocated to such programmes have also risen by a third. Whilst focus is mainly on developmental and personal effectiveness issues and business awareness, 25% of implemented and delivered activities choose to target ‘personal development’, and 15% ‘skills and capabilities’.
Although, Coaching and Mentoring are used by many as a cost-effective, time-efficient ‘organisational aspirin’ or a quick fix to a plethora of organisational issues, both methods should be used mindfully not mindlessly, responding to clearly established business needs rather than as a remedy to problems. So, when are Coaching and Mentoring considered the best interventions?
• Enabling / improving performance and achieving full potential
• Problem and issue resolution
• Preparing and supporting individuals through change such as new roles, promotions, secondments
• Learning and developing new skills, mainly interpersonal, leadership, management, customer skills
Whilst 83% of businesses choose to deliver Coaching and Mentoring internally, external coaches and mentors can also be called upon when dealing with Senior and Executive levels, or do deal with more specific and complex issues
• Defining Coaching and Mentoring
Although by no means recent concepts Coaching and Mentoring in businesses’ increasing popularity has been on the rise in the last 10 years. There are many kinds of coaching and mentoring, from executive coaching to life coaching, mentoring schemes to peer mentoring and buddy systems, and some formats will be best suited to being implemented in a professional and organisational context. As pointed out by the CIMA’s Technical Briefing on Coaching and Mentoring ‘although they are distinct in both the format they adopt and the desired outcomes … there is no universal definition of either of these terms and therefore of the differences between them.’ It may also be argued that the skills needed by the Coach and Mentor are very similar and that both roles and activities might sometimes blend and overlap.
Thorpe and Clifford (2005) define Coaching as ‘the process of helping someone enhance their performance through reflection on how they can apply a specific skill and / or knowledge.’ The Coaching Association summarises it as follows: ‘Coaching enables the client to be the best they can be in the areas they choose to focus on. The client brings the content; the coach provides a process, which can apply in any context. Ownership of content and decisions remain with the client throughout.’ Clutterbuck (2003) emphasises that coaching is ‘primarily a short-term intervention aimed at performance improvement or developing a particular competence’.
The CIPD’s Factsheet on Coaching and Mentoring defines mentoring as follows: ‘Traditionally … mentoring in the workplace has tended to describe a relationship in which a more experienced colleague uses his or her greater knowledge and understanding of the work or workplace to support the development of a more junior or inexperienced member of staff. One key distinction is that mentoring relationships tend to be longer term than coaching arrangements.’ Clutterbuck (2003) defined mentoring as ‘when a more experienced individual passes down his knowledge of how the task is done and how to operate in the commercial world.’
In brief, and as summarised by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) ‘coaching is a partnership with clients that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional potential. A coach is a trainer who provides the techniques and tools professionals need to reach their goals. Mentoring, on the other hand, is an interpersonal learning methodology. A mentor is someone with broad experience and knowledge in the area in which a client would like to improve. Mentors help individual professionals advance their careers or help companies meet their objectives in the future.’
Benabou and Benabou (2002:2) present the differences between the coaching and mentoring roles in a tabular form:
As pointed out by Whitmore (2003) ‘our current view of workplace coaching has come from the sporting world, where specialised instruction as well as plenty of encouragement and motivation was part of the coach’s approach’. A coach will work with an individual and focus on goals, facilitating performance for immediate results. Conversely, as pointed out by Clutterbuck (2004) mentoring happens ‘when a more experienced individual passes down his knowledge of how the task is done and how to operate in the commercial world.’ A mentor’s role is therefore more nurturing, focused on passing on skills and knowledge aiming at the longer-term.
Mentoring and coaching are often used simultaneously and synonymously. Even if their outlooks are different, both operate parallelly to one another. Both activities are used to facilitate learning and to be successful necessitate self-awareness, honesty and open dialogue from which will stem insights and reasoned actions and decisions. Ownership and responsibility from the coachee / mentee’s part is also essential as the relationships are not directive but based on trust, development and mutual respect.
The Purposes and Key Benefits of Coaching and Mentoring for Different Stakeholders
Mentoring and coaching relationships will affect the following stakeholders:
If we refer to the above definitions, some of the clear purposes of coaching can be captured as follows:
• Performance management and improvement
• Skills / confidence development
• Problem solving in a specific context
This is further supported by the CIPD L;D Annual Survey 2014 which found that employers most commonly used coaching in an organisational context to:
• Assist with performance management
• Support learning and development, both personal and professional
• Prepare and support people in leadership roles, and also with any other role transition where quick performance / skills acquisition are needed
If coaching proves successful, potential benefits can be huge for a variety of stakeholders. Obvious benefits can be stronger employee confidence, as well as increased performance and engagement but these do not stop there.