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Mentoring and Coaching in the workplace

Studies show that offering mentoring and coaching support boosts employee performance and leads to greater job satisfaction rates, plus higher productivity and improved retention rates for employers. 

A CNBC survey on workplace happiness found that more than 4 in 10 workers who don’t have a mentor say they’ve considered quitting their job in the past three months. Meanwhile, those with a mentor were significantly more likely to be happy with their job, with 9 in 10 employees with mentors reporting being satisfied or very satisfied with their job,

Coaching is also linked to higher performance, with employees more likely to reach their goals and acquire new skills, improving well-being, job satisfaction and productivity.

Both options offer one-to-one support through relationships built over time. But how do they differ, and when should employers use them to their best effect?

What is Mentoring?

A mentor is an experienced and trusted advisor. They share their knowledge and experience to help others develop and grow. Mentoring is often a long-term relationship, which can sometimes span years. Sessions are informal, with a focus on holistic improvement over specific skills. In mentoring, the emphasis is on sharing hands-on experience and know-how over measuring the mentee’s performance or tracking improvements.  

Mentors have direct real-world experience of the mentee's ambitions and can offer advice and support to help them reach their goals. As such, mentoring can be helpful in leadership development and succession planning. Mentoring can also help inspire employees, opening their eyes to new possibilities as well as helping transfer knowledge from senior to junior professionals.

What is Coaching?

A coach provides guidance to help clients reach their goals and fulfil their potential. The coaching relationship is often more short-term than mentoring, focusing on setting, tracking and achieving SMART goals. Sessions may focus on monitoring progress, identifying strengths and weaknesses and tackling specific problems. As such, coaching sessions tend to be more structured. Once the initial goal is achieved, the coaching relationship may transition into a mentoring relationship.

Coaching can be useful in developing specific skillsets, supporting large-scale change and helping address poor performance.

Who can play the role of a coach or mentor?

Coaches should have relevant coaching qualifications, but anyone with the relevant experience to support the mentee’s goals can be a mentor. Coaches and mentors can be internal to your business or external support. What’s important is that they can offer impartial support, so this shouldn’t be the employee's direct line manager. 

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