Coaching and Mentoring, Concept and Process of Coaching and Mentoring, Employee Development, Human Resource Development, MS-22

Explain the concept of coaching and mentoring. Describe the process of coaching and mentoring with reference to your organization or an organization you are familiar with. Discuss how coaching and mentoring are used to help in employee development. Briefly describe the organisation you are referring to.

Both coaching and mentoring are processes that enable both individual and corporate clients to achieve their full potential.
Coaching is…
"a process that enables learning and development to occur and thus performance to improve. To be a successful a Coach requires a knowledge and understanding of process as well as the variety of styles, skills and techniques that are appropriate to the context in which the coaching takes place"

Mentoring is...
"off-line help by one person to another in making significant transitions in knowledge, work or thinking"

Organizational development, changes brought about by mergers and acquisitions as well as the need to provide key employees with support through a change of role or career are often catalysts, which inspire companies to seek coaching or mentoring. Coaching & mentoring, both of which focus on the individual, can enhance morale, motivation and productivity and reduce staff turnover as individuals feel valued and connected with both small and large organizational changes. This role may be provided by internal coaches or mentors and, increasingly, by professional coaching agencies.

Coaching and mentoring programmes generally prove to be popular amongst employees as coaching achieves a balance between fulfilling organizational goals and objectives whilst taking into account the personal development needs of individual employees. It is a two-way relationship with both the organization and the employee gaining significant benefits.

Coaching is job focused; aimed at a specific subject or clearly defined task; it takes place over a relatively short period of time; the process is led by the coach, and the aim is to perform. The process takes place through instruction, discussion and dialogue and the coached person is learning from the coach.

Mentoring is person focused; aims at helping the mentee to help himself; takes place over a longer period of time; the process is led by the mentee and the aim is reflection. The process takes place through dialogue and the mentee learns with the mentor.

I am familiar with NASA. NASA is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It is the governmental agency that oversees space exploration for the USA. Founded in 1958, NASA belongs to the executive branch of the Federal Government. NASA's mission to plan, direct, and conduct aeronautical and space activities is implemented by NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC, and by nine major centers spread throughout the United States.

Coaching Process at NASA Headquarters

1. Identify a Coaching Opportunity
A coaching need relates to a person’s current job responsibilities: there is a gap between the person’s current level of competence or performance and that required of the position. A coaching opportunity relates to a person’s career development: the development of additional experience or competence will position the person well for future job opportunities.

Once a coaching need has been identified, and before a discussion is initiated with the person, it will is useful to assess your own experience.

2. Develop a Coaching Plan
A coaching plan includes the following:

  1. Agree on desired outcomes
  2. Explore obstacles and enablers
  3. Agree on coaching process, roles and responsibilities

3. Coach
Choosing a style to match the performer’s current capability is only the first step in the coaching process. In order for performers to grow, coaches need to change their own behaviour and adjust their style to encourage and support increasing competence and commitment. Consider these steps for moving a performer to gradually reach higher levels of capability and performance.

Describe the development goal: Start by knowing where you’re going. Describes the desired level of performance in terms of behavior and results. Assess the current capability level: Determine a current level of competence and commitment with respect to the work. Is the performer confident and motivated? How
much skill and/or experience does he or she have?

Encourage growth by adjusting your style: Use the "Stewardship Cycle" below to visualize this. Adjust the amount of directing and supporting behaviour so as to move in the model toward "Empowering". For example, if you’re currently "Directing" (Hi Structure/Hi Support) you might reduce the amount of direction while sustaining the high supporting behaviour. Take a risk by providing less help on the task side while being available to facilitate problem solving or bolster confidence. Alternately, you might be able to reduce both direction and support a little ("Teach" a bit less) and observe progress.
Continue/Re-adjust: If your efforts produce success, continue the process, gradually moving toward releasing the performer to do the job independently. Don’t be surprised by the occasional setback – and don’t over-react. Success could take days or months depending on what you are working on. Focus on a clear target and take reasonable steps. You might be surprised at how quickly things can change. Sometimes in a single meeting, you can adjust your style in response to evidence of growth.

4. Follow-Up
Effective coaches follow up with performers by giving them feedback on their progress, and determining with performers, if desired outcomes have been met.

Mentoring Process at NASA Headquarters

1. Mentoring program information sessions – General information sessions to provide interested employees with information about the program is offered prior to the application deadline. These sessions help prospective participants decide whether this program is right for them.

2. Mentoring program orientation/kickoff workshop – After employees have applied for the program, but before any mentor/mentee matches are officially made, a three hour kickoff workshop is held. This kick off workshop consists of two parts. The first part is be attended by mentees and their supervisors to gain a better understanding of the whole concept of mentoring and how the Headquarters Mentoring Program works. The second part includes an opportunity for mentors and mentees to "meet and greet".

3. Dynamic mentoring orientation training – After mentor/mentee matches have been made, both mentors and mentees receive one two-day required formal training course that marks the beginning of the formal mentoring partnerships.

4. Progress reviews and program evaluation - Mentors and mentees provide feedback for a mid-point progress review. The reviews provide participants an opportunity to benchmark progress, uncover problems and recommend improvements or adjustments to the program design.

5. Meetings/connections with mentors – Mentees have an opportunity to capitalize on the wisdom of a mentor’s experience. Mentoring meetings/connections help mentees hone their personal and professional capabilities, while increasing their organizational effectiveness.

Mentoring agreement – Participants negotiate a mentoring agreement that clarifies the expectations of the mentoring partnership.

Mentoring action plans – Each partnership design and define an individual Mentoring Action Plan (MAP). The MAP is based on an assessment of each individual’s developmental needs and identify the specific goals and activities that are to be accomplished during the partnership.

Ongoing program support – The Headquarters Training Office provides support to help the partnerships develop personalized activities, measure progress and troubleshoot problems and challenges.

End of program recognition – At the end of the program year, there is a formal recognition for mentors and mentees who actively participated in the program. A formal ending prevents the relationship from dwindling without focus or disintegrating from inactivity. It's an excellent time to evaluate your work together, finish your last objectives, and plan for future options.

Employee Development - Coaching and Mentoring Benefits Individuals who engage in a coaching relationship can expect to experience fresh perspectives on personal challenges and opportunities, enhanced thinking and decision making skills, enhanced interpersonal effectiveness, and increased confidence in carrying out their chosen work and life roles. Consistent with a commitment to enhancing their personal effectiveness, they can also expect to see appreciable results in the areas of productivity, personal satisfaction with life and work, and the achievement of personally relevant goals.

Mentoring benefits to mentees & mentors

  1. Take charge of their careers.
  2. Grow personally and professionally by taking advantage of resident corporate knowledge.
  3. Gain a broader view of NASA and how his/her work impacts the mission.
  4. Increase visibility and gain exposure to organizational values, relationships and business.

Help mentors

  1. Understand the needs of employees and the organization better.
  2. Gain a fresh perspective on their work and the value of helping others.
  3. Share their knowledge and expertise with others through mentoring partnerships.
  4. Develop potential resources for assistance on projects.