Coaching and Mentoring

What are coaching and mentoring?

Coaching and mentoring are development techniques based on the use of one-to-one discussions to enhance an individual’s skills, knowledge or work performance.

It is possible to draw distinctions between coaching and mentoring (as discussed below) although in practice the two terms are often used interchangeably.

What is coaching?

Coaching targets high performance and improvement at work and usually focuses on specific skills and goals, although it may also have an impact on an individual’s personal attributes (such as social interaction or confidence). The process typically lasts for a relatively short defined period of time, or forms the basis of an on-going management style.

What is mentoring?

Mentoring involves the use of the same models and skills of questioning, listening, clarifying and reframing associated with coaching.

Traditionally, however, 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. In a succession planning scenario, for example, a regional finance director might be mentored by a group level counterpart over a lengthy period to develop a sound understanding of dealing with the boardroom, presenting to analysts and challenging departmental budgets, all in a supportive environment.

What is UnMentoring

So in the true spirit of adapting something that exists already we have essentially reworked Nesta’s Randomised Coffee Trials. It will start during March 2015.

UnMentoring (Randomised Coffee Trials in disguise) will work as follows:

Step 1: You sign up to committing to having a conversation remotely with a random person over a cup of your favourite refreshment (non alcoholic of course) for around 30 minutes to 1 hour once a month via the phone or through skype/Google Hangout.

Step 2: You are randomly assigned somebody to have conversation with from among those who make the commitment – it will then be down to the both of you to self-organise and agree a mutually convenient time in a specified week. Remember that you are committing to speak to someone new every month, although there may be occasions when you get the same person twice, given the random nature of things.

Step 3: You are not obliged to talk about anything in particular, we would suggest you consider “Think, Do, Share” as themes to get you started but there is no rule. That’s it.

So why do this?

According to NESTA the benefits include the following:

  • Provides legitimacy to chat to people about things that aren’t directly work related. Although every time there have been direct beneficial impacts on various projects and programmes.
  • Totally random conversations, as well as some very useful work related conversations. Breaks silos… in a really effective way.
  • Offers the chance to make time to talk to people they should be talking to anyway, and to meet people who they won’t be directly working with but it’s nice to know who they are!
  • It’s a really good way of revealing links within and outside of the organisation and encouraging us to collaborate.
  • They like the prompt to talk to someone new (or someone they already know), and the permission to take 30-60 minutes to just to see what’s going on, without any particular agenda or goal.