A communications specialist has recommended that organizations turn to coaching and mentoring to help people achieve high performance in communications work and realize their potential.
This is the gist of a recent article by executive coach and mentor Sue Solomons, published by the British Association of Communicators in Business.
Solomons distinguishes between coaching and mentoring.
Coaching, says Solomons, consists of “a number of one to one discussions between the coach and the person being coached,” with a “coaching brief” spelling out a specific business benefit agreed at the beginning, often with a line manager.
The coaching may address feedback, a short-term goal or long-term ambition or perhaps even a particular work relationship, according to Solomons, whose 20 years of communication industry experience saw her move from the public sector to PR consultancy.
Because it’s important that the coachee be able to talk openly with the coach about every aspect of an issue that may impact performance, the content of the coaching discussions must remain confidential between the coach and the coachee, Solomons stresses.
Although there are many coaching skills courses now widely available - some employing tools such as NLP (neuro linguistic programming), 360 feedback, psychometric instruments, and goal setting models - focus should remain on improving performance from the business point of view, Solomons cautions.
Solomons says coaching works because the coachee has the chance to ‘think broadly” about his position, behavior, actions and aspirations, with someone who is focused on helping find his own solutions. And one’s own solutions, Solomons adds, work much better than the solutions offered by someone else.
Coaching is a little different from mentoring, which works more as a “teacher-pupil relationship.” Mentoring, Solomons points out, is especially useful when a team member with less experience requires short term help with, for example, a heavy workload or a stretching target.
In mentoring, the mentee is developed with on-the-job training while meeting business targets, Solomons says.
Solomons discusses other features of mentoring, to wit:
1. A mentoring arrangement would normally involve the mentor, mentee and manager agreeing on targets for the business as well as the mentee’s development.
2. The mentor arranges frequent meetings to help out the mentee and come in with advice and the lessons of experience when necessary, often providing support between meetings.
3. The training and development is specific to the task at hand, building the confidence and experience of the mentee for future projects.
4. The advantage to the mentee is the opportunity to prove their potential, while being supported and hopefully feeling valued by his employer.
Solomons says Human Resource teams often have coaching and mentoring professionals they can recommend. HR teams can also share insights on managing coaching and mentoring, and even provide advice on when a company should or should not use them.
Coaching and mentoring would appear to provide the answer in an age where multitasking and delegating responsibility are equally important to moving any enterprise forward, from the ground up.