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Coaching and mentoring

The trend towards coaching and mentoring

In most organisations today, walking in and delivering a few days of training is not enough. Many companies have found that after spending thousands of dollars on training interventions, there has been no real significant change or measured impact on business. This has been the bane of the training industry, which has lost a tremendous amount of credibility because of this charge.

What is coaching?

The coach within an organisation is quite similar to a tutor. This is not a new practice. In fact, this is very common in the banking industry. The coach is not necessarily a supervisor, for anyone can fulfill this role. The coach is therefore responsible for following:

1. Transferring valuable skills to his or her colleagues.

2. Assisting them in figuring out solutions within the workplace.

3. Guiding colleagues through legacy systems or new solutions.

In your role as a coach, it’s important not to come over as the doyen of all truth and knowledge within the organisation or you will quickly lose respect. Here are some tips regarding the types of questions you should ask as a coach:

‘Questions’ on new systems implemented:

1. Are you comfortable with system “X”?

2. Tell me what new benefits you can identify.

3. Please help us to point out any weakness you come across.

4. What are your suggestions for improving the system?

Questions related to goals:

1. How do you rate yourself from 1-10?

2. Can you give a realistic time to achieve this goal?

In general, you will notice from the tone of the questions that you are transferring ownership to the person you are coaching and this is the key technique.

If you are in the business of training, whether in-house or an external provider, be prepared for an increased demand for coaching services.

What is mentoring?

Oft times, the term mentoring is used interchangeably with coaching, but GES does not recommend this. Mentoring is slightly different from coaching. The mentor is usually a senior person within the organisation appointed to a junior person. The role of the mentor is to:

1. Provide guidance.

2. Act at the first point of reference for any challenges or difficulty the junior may face.

3. Give career tips and guidance.

4. Help the junior navigate through internal bureaucracy, policies and procedures.

Organisations must be very careful in designating mentors for junior staff. It’s important to know the personality types before appointing any and every one as a mentor. The traits for good mentoring are as follows:

1. Should be good with people.

2. Must have a high level of emotional intelligence.

3. Should not be swamped with so much work that there’s never enough time to act as mentor.

Tips for implementing coaching and mentoring programmes

GES recommends that before embarking on coaching and mentoring programmes that you go through the following steps:

1. Screen your candidates by way of psychometric testing, experience, observation and interviews as if you would for a new employee hire. Coaching and mentoring are very specific roles and require a unique skill set. Not all managers or supervisors will make good coaches and mentors.

2. Define the specifications of what will be required for the roles of coach or mentor.

3. Set metrics.

4. Allocate a specific number of hours for coaching and mentoring even though they will be ad hoc situations. In the case of in-house coaches and mentoring, you must be careful not to allow this role to distract too much from core tasks and responsibilities.

5. If the demand increases for coaching and mentoring, you may wish to create specialised jobs to handle the demand.

6. Consider coaching as part of your request for services from external training companies. This will save you the time of having to divert in-house staff from their everyday activities.

Finally, the field of accounting offers very good examples on how mentoring ought to be done. ACCA has an excellent mentoring programme if you are looking for a model to follow. See :

* For access to the entire series of GES articles in pdf feel free to download them from

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