Coaching and mentoring

Coaching is certainly a buzz word in the workplace and with good reason – it delivers great results. The CIPD defines coaching as ‘development techniques based on the use of one-to-one discussions to enhance an individual’s skills, knowledge or work performance’.

The goal behind coaching is to improve performance at work, usually focusing on specific skills and behaviours. It may also focus on personal attributes such as confidence or social interaction, and is usually carried out on a one-to-one basis, generally with a more senior member of staff taking the coaching role. The process can last any amount of time but is generally for a short period, or it can form the basis of an ongoing relationship.

The GROW model is one method of goal setting and problem solving. Developed in the UK it was used extensively in corporate coaching in the late 1980s and 1990s, and uses the following acronym to go through the process of four steps:

• Goal
• Reality
• Obstacles / Options
• Way forward

Mentoring employs similar techniques to coaching, but is more generally formed of a senior-junior relationship, utilising the skills, experience and contacts of a senior member of staff to improve the knowledge and understanding of someone more junior in an organisation. Mentoring relationships tend to be formed over a longer period of time, and may be included in formal succession planning, i.e. when a senior member of staff is heading for retirement.