In the business world, managing as a coach is a necessity not only for your success, but also for your survival. Business coaching is about helping employees become more effective — and supporting and involving your employees in the process. Coaching influences employee adaptability, productivity, and retention. It helps you make better use of your time.
It is acknowledged by senior management in many organisations that their company will thrive if they offer some form of coaching and mentoring to their staff.
More often than not, mentoring and coaching are used interchangeably in the business context. That’s why at many organizations, a mentor is expected to undertake coaching responsibilities as well. But despite what most people might think, there is a big difference between a mentor and a coach.
If you are wondering how these two roles differ and what these professionals bring to the table, you need to know the specific responsibilities of a mentor and a coach
People can get a professional qualification in coaching and mentoring, a certificate in coaching and mentoring; there are many courses offering training in coaching development, creative mentoring, career coaching, face to face training, online training, workplace mentoring, becoming a coaching and mentoring consultant, building a coaching network, business approaches to coaching and mentoring, distance learning, management mentoring, staff coaching, in-house training courses, 'out' house training courses. There are basic courses and advanced coaching and mentoring training and qualifications.
The list truly is endless!
It seems as though everyone from business schools to the corner shop is offering coaching and mentoring. The only problem is that for someone who has never used a coach or mentor before, it can all become very confusing.
For those who want to train to become a coach or mentor, the choices can seem daunting: 'Where do I begin?'
For companies who want to initiate a coaching and mentoring programme, they want the reassurance of the tangible benefits and return on their investment.
Coaching: we see a business, corporate or executive coach in much the way we see a sports coach. This person sets specific goals and objectives, sees what you need to do to achieve them and works with you on target setting, professional and personal development, expansion of your skills base and offers practical and relevant advice and guidance.
Mentoring: a mentor can almost be seen as a wise, experienced friend or favourite aunt or uncle type person. A mentor leads by example and is a role model. They might be very good at helping you see the big picture and understand the politics of the organisation you work for.
A coach can be a mentor and a mentor can be a coach or the role can be rolled into one. The key is that whatever term you use, the person being coached or mentored gets unbiased support and guidance.
Many great small business owners credit their success stories in part to having a great business coach. By combining the power of a business advisory board (who acts as a sounding board for ideas and challenges in your business), with a business coach that will help you to implement ideas and strategies borne from each monthly meeting.
What is a Mentor?
A mentor, in simple words, is someone who offers their knowledge, expertise and advice to those with less experience. By leveraging their experience and skills, mentors guide mentees in the right direction. Most of us might be familiar with the concept of a business mentor within our workplace as being someone who has more experience or wisdom and is willing to share their knowledge and insights in bringing on a younger colleague, guiding their career within the company.
It is only relatively recently however, that the term mentor has broken out of the workplace and into the marketplace and the term ‘business mentor’ is often freely bandied around to encompass a broad range of activities and services from business angels to non-executive directors.
A mentor helps mentees consider opportunities for career growth, gain confidence and improve interpersonal skills. The support is based on the mentor’s own experiences and learnings, which makes them more reliable figures in the eyes of the mentees.
A business mentor provides support to the mentees with regard to their career growth and interpersonal skill development. Specifically, a mentor helps mentees explore their career options, set development goals, develop new contacts and identify resources. In this way, a mentor serves as a professional advisor and role model for the mentees.
A mentor’s role evolves as the needs of his/her mentees change over time. In most instances, mentoring relationships are informal, while at times such relationships could be more formal. In formal mentoring relationships, mentors follow a structured approach to set realistic expectations and gain mutual benefits.
From a business perspective, mentors help employees gain more confidence in their work and develop skills to add value. Confident and satisfied employees steer organizations forward, which explains why a number of businesses are now shifting their focus on identifying the right mentoring programs.
Business mentoring does not involve employing a consultant or employee to help run your business. Instead, it’s a relationship between you, the business owner, and someone with business experience that can guide you through making the difficult decisions, point out ways of improving your business, ask you the tough questions and motivate you to want to achieve higher levels of performance, all within the bounds of a trusted relationship.
Because it's lonely at the top, business mentoring can offer you a partner in the process, a sharing of views with someone who really knows the ropes. Working with a business mentor will help you gain fresh insights into problems and decision making, through impartial, objective discussion and feedback.
Your business mentor has no agenda apart from your own success. This allows your mentor to give unbiased independent support to help your business grow and develop.
A business coach focuses on specific skills and development goals by breaking them into concrete tasks to be completed within a specified period of time. By doing so, business coaches help and guide businesses clarify their growth vision.
For many businesses, identifying and prioritising goals is a big challenge. Business coaches address this challenge by helping businesses prioritise their goals on the basis of importance. They follow a more formal, structured approach to resolve issues and manage specific aspects of the job.
A good business coach focuses on identifying goals, prioritising them and choosing the right path to achieve them. In doing so, business coaches help businesses become more accountable, goal-driven and competitive.
Business coaches cover various aspects of running a successful business. These may include sales targets, marketing strategies, communication skills, team building, leadership and more.
Coaches comprehensively assess businesses to recognise their core strength and growth challenges. Based on their assessment, they help formulate a plan or strategy, set targets and identify the steps required to achieve the desired results.
A great business coach challenges the status quo, questions business decisions and prompts organisations to take a closer look at their approach. This way, they bring in a fresh perspective to the business strategy and goals. But rather than simply questioning how things are run at a business, a coach guides the organisation to adopt appropriate growth strategies.
For businesses, a coach helps succeed by guiding in the right direction. Often businesses lose sight of where they want to be and the steps they need to follow to achieve success, a business coach provides clarity. They give pointed advice and opinions to get businesses back on track.
By now, it should be clear that a business mentor differs from a business coach. To sum up the difference between a mentor and a coach, here are some specific points of differentiation:
Resist the potentially destructive belief that you must always go it alone, or that your team needs to address things amongst their own collective, without relying on outsiders. Instead, consider the value of coaching and mentoring through the perspective of a professional:
Both mentors and coaches benefit businesses in several ways. To benefit the most, businesses need to be clear on what their priorities are and what kind of support they are looking for. With the right support, small businesses can become more productive, profitable and competitive.
Despite the many similarities between coaching and mentoring, the 'purists' like to draw distinctions by pointing out the differences in techniques used in each. In reality, many of these distinctions are unnecessary and confusing. To add to the confusion, the rules of traditional coaching and mentoring are also often blurred by professional practitioners themselves. There are mentors who have little or no direct experience in their clients' roles and there are coaches who do.