“Coaching is about personal accountability and mentoring is about keeping knowledge from walking out the door.”
I was fortunate to be engaged to create and install a mentoring/coaching program in an organization of about 7,500. I was pleased in the early stages when the client made it clear they wanted this mentoring program to blend in a coaching component. Truthfully, I was relieved as I don’t know exactly how I would separate them. The roles of coach and mentor are different in certain areas and similar in many critical areas.
I created and facilitated the training and led follow-up meetings with the mentor/coaches and mentee/coachees all throughout the year. My client contact and I thoroughly explained up front to our participants that we would not burden them with structure. We focused the training more on process and the content recommendations for the mentor/mentee meetings.
Feedback all through the year was good and the final assessment saw the program as a success. The one main concern we heard all through the year – not enough structure.
Leaders are busy – we’ve established that fact by our experience. Busyness sometimes controls our ability to focus on important things that don’t conform to our paradigm of scheduling. I’m reminded of Stephen Covey’s advice to not prioritize our schedule, but to schedule our priorities. Too many leaders today do not schedule time for their own development.
What a mentoring program focuses on is a priority – the individual. I found it almost amusing that the loudest proponent for structure in our program was the same one who created the best structure for his mentee. Everyone was impressed by both their process and relationship. And then their was the mentee whose mentor changed during the program. The new mentor had not gone through the training. The mentee clearly outlined expectations for the experience overall and for each subsequent meeting.
Provide your mentors and mentees with the proper tools, gain mutual commitment, and they will structure accordingly.
Remember; coaching is about personal accountability and mentoring is about keeping knowledge from walking out the door.