Category Archives: Mentor/Mentee Training

Difference Between Mentoring and Coaching

Difference Between Mentoring and Coaching

When some business owners and corporations start looking into mentoring programs, there is some initial confusion about what mentoring is. One of the biggest confusions that they have is identifying what differentiates mentoring from coaching and why mentoring can be so much more effective.

In order to understand the differences between mentoring and coaching, the first step is to identify what a coach does. Coaching is going to be focused on the performance of an individual, it is going to help a staff member who is struggling to pick up a required job skill to overcome the mental block they have against it; in other words, coaching is about improving the way a staff member performs and is designed with a specific agenda in mind.

On the other hand, mentoring is all about personal growth. Rather than having a defined relationship between the people mentoring and the person being mentored, both parties are able to relax a bit, to develop a trusting relationship and to contribute to that relationship. While mentoring is, in part, about helping newer employees – even just those who are new to a specific department – to learn the job, mentoring is also about helping those being mentored to grow as individuals

Coaching is specific; if you look at it with a sports analogy, the coaches are the ones who are on the sidelines telling the players how to get the job done – they are calling plays, making substitutions and are focused on the team reaching a goal. Mentors on the other hand are more like team captains. They aren’t coaching from the sidelines, but they are in the game. Mentors aren’t telling people what they need to do; they are working with them to get the job done.

In other words, mentors are not just focused on providing instruction; mentors are more willing to have a balanced relationship with those who they mentor. Mentors are not going to just be the one saying “you have to do it and it needs to be done this way;” mentors are going to be the ones who recognize that working with others will also help them to grow – both personally and professionally.

Mentoring creates a balanced, ongoing relationship and looks at the person being mentored as a whole person: it’s about making sure that the mentee is invested, thinking about their future and getting the guidance that will help them to reach their goals. Coaching is far more short-term and more specific; it’s about making sure that a task is accomplished and that a goal is met rather than setting and achieving ongoing goals.

Coaching can be effective in the workplace, however many companies that are able to put a mentoring program into place find that they increase productivity, profitability and growth – both for the company and for those who are involved in mentoring programs. Coaching can help to get new employees focused, mentoring can help them embrace their positions and to grow with the company – and that’s what makes mentoring more effective over time.

Copyright 2008, Cecile Peterkin. All rights reserved.

Mentoring is the Answer to Diversity Initiatives in Your Organization

Mentoring is the Answer to Diversity Initiatives in Your Organization

Never before in the history of mankind has the world been more mobile. People are constantly moving, in search of better opportunities. International relocations, for improved employment opportunities are also more common. As a result, the workplace is becoming more diverse every day; and, it’s important to see these differences as an asset, not a liability. Thus, mentoring is the answer to diversity initiatives in your organization.

Mentoring Enhances Workplace Diversity

When asked to consider the topic of workplace diversity, most people first think of race and religious beliefs. But, it’s much more than the differences in skin color or an individual’s views regarding a higher power. People are different in so many ways, including:

  • Culture
  • Gender
  • Personal Interests
  • Learning Styles
  • Communication Skills
  • Personal Values

Teaching people to accept one another, and utilize workplace diversity is what diversity initiatives are all about; and mentoring is the answer to creating a solid workforce.

Consider the following scenario:

Jane has been working for company X for 10 years. Because of her experience, she is chosen to mentor a new employee. Having 3 children of her own, she is the motherly sort, but she also knows how to get the job done. She attends church regularly and frequently volunteers for community events. Jane’s coworkers describe her as very loyal and straight-laced.

Jane has been assigned to mentor Susan who appears different in every conceivable way. She is more of a loner, with a slight chip on her shoulder. She is not very trusting of people, because no one in her life has earned that privilege. She has multi-colored hair, likes heavy metal music, and has never held a job for more than a year.

Amazingly, as Jane mentors Susan, subtle changes begin to take place. Over time, Susan learns that some people are worthy or trust and respect. Jane always seems to be there, when she needs something or has a question. On the other hand, Jane learns that Susan is a hard worker, a fast learner, and eager to find a place to belong. A sense of camaraderie and friendship has developed between two people that normal would have avoided one another in the past.

Of course, Jane and Susan are totally fictitious. But, the example is meant to describe how people so different can benefit from mentoring and managing diversity in the workplace.

The Upside to Managing Diversity in the Workplace

Managing diversity in the workplace benefits both the employees and the management. Without acceptance of differences, within the office, it’s almost impossible to get things done and grow a business. Everyone is only concerned about his/her position, with little thought to how each job contributes to the success of any organization.

However, when a mentoring program is instituted, it brings about many positive changes:

  • Feel valued
  • Employees learn from one another
  • Strengths are discovered and better utilized
  • Employees bond and work together for a common goal
  • Management saves on the cost of training new employees
  • Management prepares employees for advancement
  • The organization is more productive and profitable
  • Employee turnaround is slowed

In short, mentoring creates a more positive environment in the workplace. Employees learn from one another and may discover new ways to approach old problems. Management gains a more loyal and cohesive group of workers, while saving money on the cost of education and training. Workplace diversity becomes an asset to the productivity and growth of an organization.

Copyright, Cecile Peterkin. All rights reserved.

Are Managers Mentors?

Are Managers Mentors?

“Are managers mentors?” is probably one of the most common questions in the corporate workplace today. While a good manager should have mentorship qualities, and the ability to get the most potential productivity from subordinates, are both roles possible for a supervisor? Some executives think it’s not only possible, but necessary. Others believe the two roles must remain completely separate, in order to be truly effective.

Why the Debate

Why the debate over managing and mentoring? According to the American Heritage Dictionary the job of a mentor is “to serve as a trusted counselor or teacher, especially in occupational settings”. Doesn’t a good manager possess these same talents and job skills?

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t so clear cut. Some professionals believe a manager must be separate and apart from the mentoring role. While a mentor is nurturing and encouraging, a manager must maintain the leadership role and make sure the company’s business goals are met, which mean that a new employee is likely to be very uncomfortable learning under the tutelage of the individual ultimately in charge of worker retention. Thus, a mentoring program works best when the mentor and mentee are peers.

Defining the Role of Manager vs. Mentor

For the companies choosing to define the specific roles of manager and mentor, it is a good idea to have a check list of duties and responsibilities. Since both are ultimately interested in the success of the new hire, it’s not difficult to image stepping on each other’s toes and performing certain tasks twice. Conversely, it’s is also possible that certain aspects of the mentoring program will be neglected, assuming the other person is taking care of that particular detail.

As an example, the manager checklist may include such tasks as:

  • Assessment of job performance for certification or continued employment
  • Maintaining a position of authority and legal obligations to the company and the mentee
  • The manager is generally focused on the day-to-day performance and productivity of the new hire

In essence, a manager is more concerned about the outcome of the new employee’s performance, rather than the processes taken to achieve the company goals.

On the other hand, a peer mentor remembers what it’s like to start in a new position and learn the daily operations. While mentoring means helping a new coworker achieve his/her duties as expected by the management, the approach is more personal and caring.

As an example, the mentor checklist may include such tasks as:

  • The mentor implements a plan to achieve professional goals, but helps the new hire to self assess and evaluate how to improve his/her performance.
  • A good mentor compassionately encourages, coaches, challenges, and teaches, based upon his/her own personal experience and expertise.
  • A mentor is generally more concerned with the long-term goal of developing an employee worth retaining, rather than the day-to-day productivity.

In short, the manager and mentorship roles do intersect on occasion, when it comes to training and retaining talented employees. But, each role also maintains very distinct differences in approach and the main goal. Unfortunately, the question still remains: Are managers mentors? Every company must choose the answer for themselves.

Copyright, Cecile Peterkin. All rights reserved.

Mentoring in the Workplace Plays a Vital Role in Corporate Training

Mentoring in the Workplace Plays a Vital Role in Corporate Training

You’ve been hired with a new company. Your trainer is moving up, moving on, or moving out of the business. If you are lucky, the person being replaced will be around for at least a couple of weeks to train in the various duties of the position. Sometimes, the person has already left or has only a couple of days to show you the ropes. In order to make the transition as smooth as possible, without losing workplace productivity, many companies have discovered a vital tool. Mentoring in the workplace plays a vital role in corporate training and employee retention.

Shared Experiences

Mentoring employees is an excellent method used to increase employee productivity. Businesses will naturally be more successful, if they work like a well-oiled machine. Coworkers exchange knowledge and ideas, in order to improve performance for all. For example, the new employee brings previous experiences and ideas to the table. Likewise, the more seasoned employees share information about the business and how duties have been carried out to this point. Mentoring makes sure that no one is left high and dry, and basically an island unto themselves in the workplace.

An Ongoing Process

Generally, training commences for a week or two; then, the new employee is left to figure out any confusing job related issues alone. Meaningful engagement may not be truly accomplished for weeks. However, employees mentoring employees is essential to build connections across people. For example, if a new hire has a question or problem, who will be the best resource to successfully complete a project; or what people will make the best team to create and develop a venture that will benefit the company and increase employee productivity? It is an ongoing process that ultimately enables a company to rise above the competition.

Building Relationships

Essentially, workplace mentoring is all about building relationships. Not only does the sharing of knowledge and experiences help increase employee productivity, but it will also improve how well employees work together. An engaged employee is a productive employee. Positive work relationships are a positive benefit for everyone in the office. If people work well together and have developed great relationships through mentoring, employee turnover is also likely to be reduced. Not only does it save the expense of training a new employee so often, but workplace productivity will continue to improve as well.

In summary, mentoring in the workplace does play a vital role in corporate training. Several benefits will ultimately help a business become more profitable. Conversely, there is no downside to improving workplace productivity, building important connections between employees, sharing knowledge and experience, and making sure that all of the employees are engaged as part of a team with a common goal. It is a win-win situation for everyone.

Training is only temporary and often not sufficient to create a comfortable employee in a new workplace. Regardless of the level of understanding and engagement, the sessions come to an abrupt end. However, workplace mentoring is an ongoing process that continues and is paid forward, when another new employee joins a successful team.

Copyright 2009, Cecile Peterkin. All rights reserved.

Transitioning New Employees into the Workplace with Employee Mentoring Programs

Transitioning New Employees into the Workplace with Employee Mentoring Programs

Hiring new employees is a very different experience for different companies. In some cases, there are challenges because of diversity issues and cases in which there are concerns about whether or not the fit will be right – especially when the company is hiring someone younger to lead a department rather than looking to those employees who have been with the business. In other cases, however, it is remarkably easy to transition new employees into the workplace, and often this is the direct result of having employee mentoring programs put into place.

Employee mentoring programs simplify the process of transitioning new employees into the workplace on a number of levels.

First, employee mentoring programs help to ensure that when new employees are brought into the workplace they aren’t just going to be given a desk and a stack of tasks to complete – left on their own to figure out the best possible approach to doing the work and not being sure of whom to go to when they have questions. Instead, with employee mentoring programs in place, new hires are connected with an employee who is already on the team, has experience doing the work and who will be there to provide guidance about the tasks at hand, company policies and the best ways to get things done.

Similarly, employee mentoring programs are effective for transitioning new employees into the workplace because the programs foster both relationships and confidence. Employee mentoring programs help a new hire to get to know his or her new coworkers and to establish connections. Those connections along with the support that shows that they are picking up on the requirements of the job and the knowledge that – as additional employees are brought on they will rise to the position of mentor – their contributions will be recognized and rewarded.

Because these new employees will know that their efforts will be rewarded as they learn the job, they will develop a sense of job security as well. The more that their efforts are recognized and the more comfortable that they are with getting the job done, the more that these staff members will be able to contribute. As they are able to work their way up within the company, they will further develop loyalty to the business – and they will be able to continue to take advantage of employee mentoring programs so that they will learn each job responsibility just as easily as they initially did.

With employee mentoring programs in place, therefore, businesses will find that they are able to groom staff members from the time that they are hired until they have reached their career goals. Likewise, companies with employee mentoring programs in place will find that their staff members form better relationships, to be more comfortable with doing their jobs and to know that there is a place where they will be able to grow and thrive. Simply put, employee mentoring programs simplify the process of transitioning new staff into the business and ensuring that, once there, they’ll want to stick around.

Copyright, Cecile Peterkin. All rights reserved.

Use Mentoring with Team Building to Achieve Strong Teams

Use Mentoring with Team Building to Achieve Strong Teams

Whether you are a fan of baseball, football, soccer or basketball, one of the things that you’ll notice is that only the teams that work well together are able to come out on top. As you strive to achieve all the goals you have set for your business, one of the things that you’re going to want to take a closer look at is company team building. Team building is not a single effort; it’s not something that you can try to tackle just once and hope it sticks, just as a coach who is trying to lead a team to the World Series, the Super Bowl, the World Cup tournament or basketball’s finals can’t schedule a single practice and expect the team to do the rest. With company team building, however, you’ll find that you do not need to be the only coach.

By taking the time to develop a mentoring strategy and involving those who have been with your company the longest, you’ll discover a variety of team building activities that can take place. For those employees who are new to the company, being paired with a mentor who has been there, who knows the “rules of the game,” and who understands the best practices for reaching company goals is like having a team captain, a teammate and a cheerleader all rolled into one.

For those who have been on staff longer, a mentoring program helps to open the door to learning new techniques or new technologies For example, protégés can teach their mentors how to use social networking tools more effectively. Those who have experience and are willing to learn from others on the team will find that they are able to do their work with greater ease, and they are able to accomplish more.

The key benefit of mentoring and company team building is the ability to draw workers together – and to make sure that they are finding support when they need it. By making sure that your staff members all feel supported and are able to recognize that they are part of something bigger – part of a team – you can rest assured that they will remain committed to reaching the goals that you’ve set forth for the company.

Having a job is one thing – especially given the overall economy. However, for those who are looking at what they can do to give their employees a sense of purpose and not just a steady paycheck, it’s important to focus on creating an investment in the business. Mentoring and team building activities that bring the staff together and allow everyone to work toward a common goal will not only help to create strong teams, but they will also lead to continued strength for your business.

Copyright 2009, Cecile Peterkin. All rights reserved.