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Coaching and Mentoring: How are these different in terms of roles, contexts, outcomes and so on? What are the expectations of participants?
It has long been recognised that succession planning in an organisational context, is an important human resource activity. However it is only in more recent times that its application and full potential within the education area has begun to be developed. Mentoring programs have at their core both the processes associated with succession planning and the concept of professional leadership growth.
The preferred definition of mentoring is: “Off line help by one person to another in making significant transitions in knowledge, work or thinking”; in other words, mentoring can be viewed as an off-line process – not one of the specific tasks undertaken by a line manager. A mentor is usually more senior or experienced than the individual being mentored, or in some cases, a credible peer. Consequently, it encourages people to pass on their knowledge to others with an essential element being aspirant mentoring.
The four roles of a mentor are seen as:
- Helping an individual to improve performance.
- Assisting with career development
- Promoting the sharing of knowledge
- A counsellor
A significant role of the mentor is to help people gain insights into themselves (their strengths and weaknesses, how other people see them), or system processes (how things operate in the organisation and best ways to get things done), or political considerations (the nature and shape of external influences on decision making processes). As such the mentoring program follows a cyclical process involving the individual and their mentor initially recognising the development need, addressing the development of that need (thereby increasing the capacity of the individual) in turn leading to individual empowerment and insight with the further identification of development needs.
Mentoring works best when it is learner driven. As such it is expected that some relationships will take quite different paths when driven by different urgencies and situational contexts.
Coaching and mentoring are seen as two different but complementary processes. Where mentoring involves a person selecting an individual to offer advice and career guidance, a coach is a person who is selected or contracted by the organisation to bring about organisational and individual improvement. Coaching therefore sits side-by-side with line management.
There are opportunities to appoint coaches whose role will include working with an individual to develop action plans with formative and summative evaluation processes included. It is recognised that coaching cannot take place unless there is a willingness and openness on behalf of the individual to accept the learning opportunities provided through the appointment of a coach.
Since the coaching program must be tailored to meet the needs of the individual or group of individuals involved some form of needs assessment must precede actual coaching. This may be in the form of performance management discussions or as a result of 360-degree feedback processes.
Relationships between the individual and the coach must be mutually cooperative. This relationship will need to build upon:
- Mutual commitment, with the coach and the individual committed to the same thing
- Mutual trust, with both parties sincere in making a commitment and also possessing the competence to meet the stated commitment
- Mutual respect, with both parties believing that the other is authentic and sincere in their intentions
- Mutual freedom to express a point of view, an ability to speak freely, openly and with due respect for sensitivities involved.
Pragmatic outcomes are the chief measures by which coaching endeavour should be evaluated. Therefore it is essential that a feedback loop be created to enable self-correction and progress towards expectations and standards established to be assessed.
The Mckinsey report "how good systems keep getting better" finds that:
“As system performance rises, professional development shifts away from a focus on technical training delivered by central coaches to a greater reliance on teacher-peer collaboration and development.” (p53)
Interesting also Fullan; advocating that" Learning is the Work", for all teachers and leaders, and investing in Team/Social Capital, as opposed to just human capital brings succession and sustainability to organisational growth.
Mckinsey Report and Fullan artice posted in School Leadership and Autonomy group's resource area.
I agree Steffan, that relationships are the key to successful outcomes in a coaching partnership. As a qualified Cognitive Coach,the tools and coaching conversations I use, are about assisting coachees to move their thinking and actions, from where they are, to where they want to be, using a process that creates 'cognitive shift'. Cognitive Coaching has been a major contributor to supporting leadership in Tasmania. you may be interested to visit the website http://www.cognitivecoaching.com
I am reflecting on the definition of mentoring offered in Steffan's post ..making significant transitions in knowledge, work or thinking”; When we contemplate the difference between change and transition, the latter involves the psychological shift that is made, rather than just doing things differently. This brings to the forefront the level of emotional intelligence for both the mentor and the mentee. How do you assess deep personal learning? And isn't this the type of learning we hope to create for students? Interesting to consider this a parallel process to what is happening in classrooms.
On the coaching side - I personally see this role as one of skillful questioner.
Stefan - I'm interested how these ideas will come into play when the school autonomy movement begins - will we need to have a sensitive way of working with experienced principals in a big area of change working in relatively uncharted waters of new areas of autonomy for many of them and dealing with the expectations of others - how could we use our understanding of mentoring and caching to work for people who willneed to get up to speed quickly but are in fact very experienced in many ways? I worry about thier health and wellbeing as well, and the fact that it needs to be part of the thought on how to support.
Jo I fully agree with what you are saying. We need to change attitudes of our leaders to the process. I believe that leadership can often become quite insular at times and people are reluctant to actively seek coaching and mentoring. Leaders may be good at networking but often are reluctant to take that next step. In our aspirant programs and when succession planning there is a very real need to engage in this kind of discussion. There is a clear need to build in these processes at the school level. In my school we have the prospective appointee work shadow the incumbent for a term, set them up with a mentor and current leaders coach them. Its a process at least, but I am open to any comments on this topic. We are all still in the apprenticeship stage with this!