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What DO people think the benefits of coaching and mentoring are?

I often find myself pondering why coaching and mentoring are so powerful. When I am being coached the fact that someone is listening so intently, and asking questions that in turn ... even though I know they are part of a coach's tool box ... help me dig deeper than when I ask myself the same questions. I am not the most extroverted person around, but still have a deep appreciation of the 'gift' of someone else's time and care.

Well, that's my perspective, and I know there are many others! 

A while back, Rick Whalley and I decided to find out a bit more about what people felt the benefits of being coached and/or mentored are. So, we surveyed, as part of coaching professional development sessions we were facilitating, some of the people with whom we were working to see what:

1) They thought the benefits of working with a coach or mentor were;

2) Why they might be motivated to coach or mentor someone; and

3) What they thought the key attributes of an effective coach or mentor were.

Below are some of the responses, mainly in the original words of the respondents. (NB Where responses were similar they have not been included). I hope you will agree, they are pretty interesting.

Benefits

  • Strengthen and / or challenge my personal views and ideas
  • Different perspectives from someone who is interested in me
  • Access support to change practice
  • Social support
  • Download / discuss issues with someone who is not a manager, partner, or colleague
  • Guidance
  • Help develop skills and knowledge about my orgnisation
  • Inspiration
  • Encouragement
  • Someone to run things by (critical friend)
  • Affirm that I am on the right track
  • Someone invested in my learning
  • Sharing and pooling ideas with an expert / experienced progressional in the field
  • Idea sharing
  • Articulate goals and have someone keep me on track with the goals
  • Find solutions to problems
  • Share strategies that have worked
  • Growth (mutual self discovery)
  • Strengthen and develop skills
  • Specific - e.g. 'promotions'
  • Open new doors
  • Benefit from the institutional + personal experience + knowledge of others
  • Development of capabilities and dispositions
  • Community / relationship building

The 24 key benefits are pretty wide ranging, and illustrate the fact that people see mentoring and/or coaching as achieving different things. Some of the key themes that jumped out for Rick and I are, within a 'safe' partnership, being able to share (issues, ideas, aspirations, and work in progress) and in the process developing as a person and a professional. Wrapped into this, for some people, is accountability, which helps motivate them to stay on track.

While there is nothing new in the 24 benefits, it is a useful snapshot of where the thinking is around coaching and mentoring, and maybe - if you don't already have a coach - be the catalyst for you to seek one out.

Why coach or mentor?

The other part of the partnership is 'doing' the coaching and/or mentoring, and these are some of the responses.

  • Help others achieve above what they thought was possible
  • Support someone to realise their potential
  • To help people find their own paths through discussion and support
  • To give something back / help someone else
  • Share our experiences with likeminded other / next generation
  • Learning is two way and I can always benefit from a coachee or mentee
  • Enjoy co-creating and collaborating, especially in developing best practice
  • Enjoy people
  • Inspire / share ideas
  • Give a new perspective to others
  • Help someone through the process of self-discovery
  • See how others grow
  • Communicating in a respectful space
  • We learn powerfully when we coach or mentor others

The stand-out themes that came through for Rick and I were the enjoyment of the reciprocal nature of a coaching and/or mentoring partnership, as well as the fundamental 'feel good' aspect of supporting someone to grow personally and professionally.

If anything resonates for you, maybe it's time for you to look into opportunities to do some coaching and mentoring :)

Attributes

The final responses were to do with the attributes people felt were essential in a mentor and / or coach, and, by implication, what they would look for in their own mentor/coach and within themselves.

  • Humility
  • Dependable
  • Listener
  • Questioner
  • Reflective (lateral)
  • Self-knowledge
  • Neutral
  • Non-judgemental
  • Passion for learning
  • Experienced
  • Empathetic
  • Approachable

There are a wide range of perceptions of what coaching and mentoring is and can provide, and the results from this informal survey align with some of the formal research that is out there.

The responses have prompted Rick and I to ask ourselves, as well as some of our clients:

  • What is already underway in your organisation?
  • What could professional learning look and feel like if it were all underpinned by a coaching and mentoring approach?
  • What would you add to the lists?

Your thoughts...?

Image

Light on white. CC ( BY NC ND ) licensed Flickr image by Hazelowendmc: https://flic.kr/p/FncgJd

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Comment by Sarah Whiting on January 19, 2018 at 19:47

Thank you Hazel and Rick for sharing this fabulous insight. 

As both a mentor and a mentee, many of the things mentioned in this post align with my own thoughts and feelings. I have found the process to so valuable that I couldn't imagine without it now. I also believe that everyone should have a coach/ mentor- to delve deeper and grow both personally and professionally. 

Also, the interesting thing for me, is that I have just been working through my values with my mentor (and after reading Rick's post) and there are things on this list that really resonate with me. I think that what I need to do is to revisit those values and consider whether the attributes are consider under them or if there is something I have yet to label. 

Something that I have also felt privileged to partake in and observe is the peer mentoring that happens in groups of professionals. When mutual trust and honest is in place then reflections, feedback, support and guidance enhances both the wellbeing and productive of the team. 

Would love to hear about other people's experiences too. 

Sarah :0)

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