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Posts Tagged ‘Coaching’

“Till you spread your wings, you will have no idea how far you can fly”

 Coaching and Mentoring are being increasingly recognized as important for the overall development of individuals. These terms are often used loosely and interchangeably but are very different from each other. While there are overlaps, each has its own value and it is important to understand which one we need before we embark on a mentoring or coaching relationship.

Mentoring is the download of knowledge, skills, information and perspective on a particular topic or area from a typically more senior/knowledgeable person to another and is useful in the following situations. If you are:

  • Seeking to learn from someone else’s existing knowledge or expertise
  • Seeking area/topic specific guidance
  • Seeking to learn and take guidance from someone successful.

A mentor can be anybody with expertise in an area, a willingness to share their knowledge and help you to achieve your own goals. Your mentor could be someone from your own function whom you would like to emulate and aspire towards or equally it could be a successful person from any other function or even industry who you can learn from and who would like to guide you. When Anil joined an IT services company as management trainee, his one aspiration was fast growth and his role model was a senior alumnus from his B school who had risen to the position of CEO at the age of 30. Anil requested and entered into a mentoring relationship with this senior to understand and emulate the work habits and career management skills that helped this person reach there. It is not necessary that Anil will also become a CEO by 30 but his career progression may be accelerated because he learnt the right things to do at the right time.

Finding the right mentor in your workplace can be an important boost to your career. For organizations, creating a culture that encourages mentoring provides not only more motivated and engaged employees but also an effective knowledge management tool.

Coaching, on the other hand, is a specialist activity and needs additional training and certification.  It is not so easy to define and is often confused with mentoring or counselling. Of all the definitions the one that has appealed to me the most and helped define me as a coach was the description of a coach as a “facilitator of individual performance or facilitator of individual excellence” The focus is on helping the individual increase self awareness and discover and tap their own potential. A basic premise that drives coaching is the belief that every person has immense potential within them and possesses the capability to find and create their own solutions.  It is the coach’s role to facilitate this journey. Coaching is rarely directive and doesn’t give you ready made formulae and solutions.

When identifying a coach, look for someone with the requisite training and more importantly use the first meeting to judge if the coach makes you feel comfortable. The best coaches in the world are people who manage to build that rapport with you and help you delve within yourself to learn in minutes things that would take hours to learn if someone would try to enforce them on you based on their own opinion. Sonali, a highly talented trainer found it very difficult for years to sell her services despite being a confident and articulate speaker with good networking skills. She then sought the help of a coach who simply by asking effective questions, summarizing, paraphrasing, reflecting and listening discovered, along with Sonali, that she had a deep-seated discomfort in asking people for things. She had always prided herself as someone who gives and doesn’t take. This along with a perception of salespersons as pushy and not entirely honest held her back from selling due to a fear she herself wasn’t aware of, that people might categorize her in the same bracket. The coach inspired her to think and change her perceptions. Sonali also realized that if she hadn’t discovered this fact about herself on her own, the chances that she would have believed any of these thoughts existed in her mind were very low.

Effective coaching would ideally leave you with a deeper insight into yourself and your blocks and the ability to identify your destination and create your own path. Coaching is right for anyone who wants to get somewhere and is willing to take some action, and make changes if required, to get where they want to go.

It helps both in relation to your work and life as it can help you identify personally relevant goals, choose the best action steps and stay on track. A coach provides with a safe and confidential place to offload and to get fresh perspectives and unbiased support. People who have used coaching services feel coaching helped them with:

  • Increasing self-confidence and self awareness
  • Redesigning their lives to become more self-reliant and take greater responsibility towards their goals and commitments
  • Increased productivity and personal effectiveness
  • Significantly better decision making due to a deeper understanding of their own world view and biases
  • Awareness of their own skills, talents and potential
  • Understanding their blind spots and reaching the root cause of their problems
  • Resolution of specific issues, dilemma for which coaching support was sought

Organizations which invested in employee coaching identified the following benefits in response to a survey:

  • Boost in employee involvement, motivation and productivity.
  • Improved interpersonal relations and teamwork
  • Performance improvement and self-development of employees and leaders
  • Effective tool for culture building
  • Strengthening of employees’ skills
  • Increased retention

Both mentoring and coaching provide organizations with powerful and cost-effective tools for increasing organizational productivity and performance and at the same time helping employees feel valued, encouraged and satisfied.

So next time you feel you can connect with a senior person and learn from him/her, don’t hesitate to establish a mentoring relationship. It can help you grow. Similarly, if something in your personal or professional life is leaving you dissatisfied and you feel something you want is not happening, reach out and find a personal coach who can help you. As was mentioned in an Ivy Business Journal “Coaching is the most potent tool for inducing lasting personal change.” Seeking external help is not common in our culture but the trends are fast changing.

To know more or for coaching or training solutions, contact the author at handashweta@gmail.com

    “He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened”                        ~Lao Tzu

An adaptation of this post has been published in The Financial Express as part of Shweta Handa-Gupta’s guest column

Copyright ©2011 Shweta Handa-Gupta. All rights reserved.

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