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Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Is Your Career On The Go Slow? Why Not Consider Coaching or Mentoring

What is the difference between coaching and mentoring?

Coaching or mentoring is not just about career progression with a view to getting a new job or promotion - although clearly it can prove beneficial for that purpose. They are also valuable tools for personal development, ensuring you are not overtaken by your peers. The two processes enable individuals to enhance and grow their skills, ensuring they remain current. It can be an equally valuable exercise for both mentor and mentee.

However often people use the terms coaching and mentoring interchangeably as if they are the same things. They are not! They are in fact 2 different tools. So what is the difference between them?

What Is Coaching?

  • The coaching relationship is generally short term in duration.
  • It is aimed at enhancing individual performance and growing skills.
  • It provides a more immediate approach, with regular meetings focused on a specific targets or area(s) of development.
  • Coaching provides feedback on both strengths and development areas.
 e.g. you start a new job and you are unsure how to operate a specific computer system or unsure how to apply company processes. You may shadow another colleague who will work with you to support and enhance your learning. Within 2 months you gain a full understanding of the system and processes and so the specific coaching relationship ends.
 
So What Is Mentoring?
  • Mentoring is more of an ongoing relationship which can last a long time.
  • It is a trusted relationship focusing on career development.
  • Meetings are more informal and less structured and often only happen when there is a specific need.
  •  The mentor is usually more senior (but not always) and passes on their experience.
  • The agenda is set by the mentee depending on the specific career support they feel they need. 
e.g. your career aspiration is to move to a new role but you know it involves a lot of influencing and stakeholder management. You have strong competencies but you recognise that stakeholder management is a development area for you. You therefore proactively identify a colleague who has excellent stakeholder management skills and you meet informally over coffee for a year. They provide you with valuable support. It is a mutual exchange, but you drive the meetings by identifying scenarios you want to discuss. 

I also liked these 2 a articles on mentoring Mentoring a 2 Way Street from @HandleRecruit and Don't Be Afraid To Ask For Help As You Climb The Career Ladder from @GuardianCareers

Don't put your career on the go slow, consider how coaching or mentoring could help you and just go for it! Good luck.