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Principles, Skills and Impact of Coaching and Mentoring

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I believe that the purpose of coaching is to help the person that you are coaching to unlock their own potential and help them gain maximum benefit from their own performance. This process enables an individual, through questioning and discussion to solve a specific problem, gain insight into their own capabilities and possibly assist them to transfer learning skills into their workplace to help improve their performance at work.

Section A.C. 1.2 Define Mentoring and its purpose
The role of mentor is slightly different to that of a coach, as it is a way of passing on information to another person, where you are the one showing them what to do in a particular situation. The definition that I think sums up mentoring best is

“has its origins in the concept of apprenticeship, when a more experienced employee passed down their knowledge of how a task was done and how to operate in the commercial world” John Whitmore, Coaching for Performance, 4th edition 2009

I believe that the purpose of a mentor is to ask questions and challenge the person being mentored, but at the same time to provide the person with guidance and encouragement. An example of this in my workplace would be when we have a student nurse on placement – as trained nurses it is our duty to show the student how to undertake basic nursing tasks and give them the confidence to be able to do these tasks on their own, with us acting as a support structure. .

Section A.C. 1.3 Describe the role of a coach
I see the role of a coach as someone who listens to what the other person is saying and can encourage the other person to begin the process of thinking for themselves, in order to come to their own solution to a particular problem. This relationship will usually have a set duration and is generally quite structured in nature, with an outcome focusing on achieving a specific, immediate goal. As a coach a different set of skills are required to those of the mentor: these include listening, communication skills, rapport building, motivation and inspiration. Coaching is centred around the coachee and their role is to help the coachee to find their own solution, not to have them follow a recommendation or suggestion made by the coach.

Listening whilst acting as a coach is more important that talking, as when you listen, people can be helped to overcome fears and be given your undivided attention. Good communication skills are important as coaching is a two way process – it is essential to be able to interpret what you are listening to and to be able to reflect back in a way that is positive and meaningful to the person being coached. Rapport building is essential, and this ability usually stems from the desire to help other people, it is made easier by the fact that as a coach you are only focussing on the coachee. Finally as a coach you have a role to motivate and inspire

Section A.C. 1.4 Define the role of a mentor

I see the role of a mentor to be similar to that of a coach, however a mentor is perhaps more of an experienced person who is keen to pass on the knowledge and skills they have to another person within the organisation, so they will often offer advice and suggestions. It focuses more on career and personal development where the agenda is set by the person being mentored with their mentor providing them with support and guidance to help prepare them for a future role. The relationship between mentor and mentee can last for a long period of time and can often take on a more informal approach depending on when the mentee needs the advice, guidance or support . The process of mentoring tends to be more about the person being mentored developing more in a professional area, so the mentor is there to encourage, nurture and provide support, as the mentor has usually already undertaken the mentee’s journey.

Mentoring is also about structured development, where you, the mentor, don’t have to tell the mentee everything you know about a subject, at every opportunity but may perhaps tell them a little bit every so often. Section A.C. 2.1 Discuss the elements of communication required of a coach and a mentor Whether you are coaching or mentoring there are some core elements of communication that span both areas; these being the ability to be a good communicator, i.e. being able to pass on information to the person that you are coaching or mentoring, being a good listener, being able to establish a rapport with the other person, being able to ask relevant, timely questions and being able to give feedback to the person you are either coaching or mentoring. As a coach you would be expected to be able to ask questions, although these should be what are termed powerful questions – they should be short, open and help move the person that you are coaching towards their goal.

As a coach you should also be aware of the tone of voice and body language of the person being coached. If they are using a monotone voice it may be a signal that they are reusing old ideas, where as if they are using a more animated voice they may be expressing new thought processes. If the coachee is leaning forward it would show a more positive approach whereas if they were sitting back in a chair with their arms crossed it would show a fairly negative approach with a reluctance to communicate with the coach. As a coach I would expect to ensure that the session was goal focussed, and would try to use SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realisitic, and Timely).

Often as a coach you should try to reframe problems that the coachee gives as a goal, for example if a coachee is talking about a “difficult” colleague, you could turn that problem round to ask something like “what would need to happen for you to be able to work with this person?”. As a coach you also need to show empathy towards the person you are coaching, as you will be able to get a sense of the other person’s emotional state. Finally you also need to be able to provide feedback to the coachee, to help them understand how to get from A to B, but this should be done without offering solutions to the problem.

When mentoring you need to use a similar set of communication skills – you still need to be able to listen actively, and have the ability to ask the right questions, in other words, questions which will make the mentee think about the task in hand, or you can ask a more direct question that has several answers, then ask the mentee why they chose the particular answer that they did. In addition to these two points, you also need to have a desire to help – you should be willing to spend time helping the mentee and to remain positive throughout. The mentor should also have an ability to critique and challenge mentees in a way that is non-threatening, and help them look at a situation from a new perspective, by this I mean that the mentor should have confident and an assured manner. They should also be able to build a rapport with the person being mentored. As a mentor you will also be expected to provide feedback, which is very similar to that of a coach.

Section A.C. 2.2 Describe the need for sensitivity and confidentiality in a coaching and mentoring relationship When entering a coaching or mentoring relationship, it is important to have some ground rules, so that both the coach/mentor and the coachee/mentee know what to expect. In this way a type of contract should be drawn up. This can be either informal, perhaps in the form of an e-mail or more formal, a proper contract for both the coach and coachee to sign. Either way it should include specific parameters for the coaching relationship, such as where the coaching session will take place, how long it is expected to last, what is and is not being offered and also include information about the coach and coachee’s responsibilities.

The coach should also ensure that there is a point pertaining to confidentiality within the contract – this should clearly state what will and will not be looked on as confidential information, and the coach should adhere to the ICF Code of Ethics whenever applicable. The coachee should be made aware of what information will be shared with other parties, as part of this contract, then it is up to them to decide if this sharing of information is permitted. During a coaching session the coach may be given some sensitive information from the coachee, this is where the bond of trust arises, and if sensitive information is discussed then the coach should be considerate of the coachee and try to see things from the coachee’s point of view.

Section A.C. 2.3 Identify methods of feedback and support for a coachee and mentee in a coaching and mentoring relationship Feedback can be broken down into four main categories: Positive feedback – which involves giving praise for achievements. Positive feedback is extremely important as it lets people know they are doing things right and encourages them to continue. Negative feedback – this involves commenting on problems and areas for improvement. It is equally important but needs to be given in a way, which will lead to improvement and increase commitment. Constructive feedback – this includes both positive and negative feedback. It stresses the need to be supportive and to look for ways of solving problems and moving forward.

Destructive feedback – this is predominantly critical. It emphasises the negative and gives very little in the way of helpful suggestions. When giving feedback, ask permission, before plunging ahead, check to see if the other person is ready and willing to hear you out, for example you could say” Is this a good time for me to tell you some thoughts I have about…..?” Complement first, start by reflecting something you genuinely value or appreciate about the person, especially something relevant to the subject of your feedback, again something like “You have a warm, friendly tone with the customers you call” Try to focus on behaviour, describing specific actions, rather than labelling the person, again try to give examples wherever possible. If you are giving negative feedback, you need to keep an open mind and be willing to accept what you hear. Be knowledgeable about the individual’s performance and try to be constructive at all times. The overall aim of giving feedback is to maintain and improve performance

Section A.C. 3.1 Identify the benefits of coaching and mentoring for the individual I would think that the benefits of coaching and mentoring for an individual are that it helps to improve learning, improves the individual’s creativity, as they have more opportunity to think for themselves, helps improve a person’s motivation and can help boost the confidence of the person being coached. As a result of these, coaching also helps to improve the quality of work and gives the coachee a greater sense of worth within their organisation, as the coaching sessions will help them focus on their own performance, targets and goals, and should help increase their ability to identify solutions to specific work related issues along with helping to motivate them in the work place.

One of the primary benefits of coaching for an individual is that it should boost the confidence of that individual and coaching should also take into account the coachee’s personal and career development needs and ultimately help improve their quality of life, they will have improved relationships within the workplace and also respect for other co-workers. Section A.C. 3.2 Identify the benefits of coaching and mentoring for the team I believe that one of the main benefits of coaching for the team is that it strengthens the team’s performance by improving upon team weaknesses.

It helps strengthen inter-team relationships and ultimately helps the team perform at its highest potential. Coaching a team should also help improve the quality of life for individuals within the team and should encourage creative suggestions from all members of the team without fear of ridicule or premature dismissal, as one creative idea often helps spark other ideas into life. Coaching a team also helps the manager ensure that there is better use of the people, skills and resources within that particular team, and helps promote an atmosphere where people are valued and thus more willing to do things for the benefit of the team, leading to greater motivation amongst the members.

Section A.C. 3.3 Identify the benefits of coaching and mentoring for the organisation. The benefits of coaching and mentoring for an organisation are that they are likely to see quick results as an outcome. The organisation should see improvements in individual members performance, targets and goals, and staff should have an increased openness to personal learning and development. The organisation should see greater ownership and responsibility from the staff who will also have an increased ability to identify solutions to specific work related issues. On the whole there will be greater clarity in roles and objectives and an improvement in specific skills and behaviour from each of the individuals, and the organisation should see an increase in the motivation of the staff, as it will be demonstrating a commitment to staff as individuals and their own development within the organisation. Coaching should improve productivity and encourage creativity, flexibility and adaptability amongst the work force

Parslow, Eric
The Manager as Coach and Mentor, 2nd edition, CIPD publishing, London,1999

Megginson, D. and Boydell, T.
A Manager’s guide to Coaching, CIPD publishing
London, 1979

Whitmore, John
Coaching for performance, 4th edition, Nicholas Brearly publishing London, 2009

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