The words ‘to coach, mentor, counsellor and tutor’ tend to be used as if they’re interchangeable. However, coaching, mentoring, counselling and tutoring fit on a continuum.
The focus of coaching is performance-centred. A coach supports the individual to improve – and the key to success is how the individual defines the desired improvement in performance.
A coach is someone who draws from the client what they already have and know. The coach focuses the talent that’s already there. The coach need not possess technical expertise but draws such expertise to the fore in the client.
Counselling is person-centred. Mentoring is profession-centred – so it’ll deal with a person as a sales manager, for example. A mentor is likely to have subject matter expertise and expertise in the client’s specialist field.
Tutoring is focused on a specific task. So, engaging in coaching will also involve you in elements of the other three activities. A tutor is task-orientated and will give the client things to do to draw out what’s required.
The boundaries are blurring between coaching and mentoring. Coaching tends to focus on a short- term task. The coach drives the act of coaching, showing the client where s/he is going wrong. With mentoring, the focus is on making progress and this process may last a lifetime. It’s the learner who drives the mentoring process. The mentor is there to help the learner work out the answer that s/he needs.
The GROW Coaching Model
Among the many models of coaching is the ‘GROW’ process, which can identify strategies that might be useful to a client. Its components are:
• Goal – what does the client want?
• Reality – what’s the current position?
• Options – what are all the options that the client faces?
• Who, what, where and so on - strategies and tactics for achieving the goal.
This is an agenda-setting process. Often, the client tries to adopt the ‘WORG’ process – that is, focusing on the problem, not the goal – in effect, starting with where they are so they can get sympathy.
The Sports Coaching Model
The ‘sports coaching model’ is characterised by the ‘high performance pyramid’. At the base of the pyramid is ‘Foundation (fun)’; then comes ‘Participation (skill)’, followed by ‘Performance’ and, finally, ‘Podium’.
As the client moves further up the pyramid – towards being a world champion – s/he needs to re-discover what s/he finds ‘fun’ about what s/he does. All achievements must rest on the foundation of ‘fun’. That’s the ‘buzz’ that everyone needs.
A variation on the high-performance pyramid is:
• Physical (at the base of the pyramid)
Physical well being is as important as anything when it comes to achieving top performance.
A Third Coaching model
This model comprises:
• Identity – the client ‘discovers’ who they are and decides if they’re determined to be a champion.
• Values and beliefs – the client answers the questions, ‘do I believe that I can succeed?’ and ‘does it matter?’
• Capability and know-how – it’s not the coach’s job to be concerned with the client’s ability to ‘do what they do’.
• Behaviour – in order to be a world champion, you have to be a ‘natural’ but everything else in your ‘make-up’ has to be ‘as one’.
• Environment and context – the world in which the client operates.
We all have mentors at different parts in our lives but a coach focuses on a particular part of your life – such as your business life. A coach should challenge you, stretch you and help you to grow, developing your skills to help you get to where you want to be.
A top sportsperson can have several coaches – each one of which focuses on a particular aspect, such as fitness or mental preparation. When a sportsperson performs badly, their first thought may be that they’re not good enough and they should give up.
“That happens in business, too,” adds Hugo Heij. “That’s where a coach is valuable – to challenge this and help the person draw out the lessons from that bad experience that helps them succeed next time.”
Tim Gallwey wrote a bestselling “Inner Game” series of books outlining a methodology for coaching and the development of personal and professional excellence in a variety of fields.
Among other things, he offers a formula for coaching of “P = p – I”, where “P” is performance, “p” is people’s potential to perform, which is unlimited, and “I” is interference. So the key to successful coaching is to remove interference. This suggests that, while teaching anybody anything involves putting stuff ‘into’ a person’s head, a successful coach should be taking things away.
A mentor is a person who helps someone to learn and achieve their full potential.
Mentoring is a partnership; a confidential relationship; a positive developmental activity and should provide objective insight. Because it’s a confidential relationship, a client’s line manager shouldn’t be her/ his mentor.
Mentoring isn’t a process intended to undermine a line manager’s authority. It’s not about forming a secret society; nor is it judgemental, hierarchical or imposed. Indeed, where mentoring is concerned, the client is responsible for driving the learning, while the mentor is merely there to help.
Engage in Learning has designed two courses specifically on how to use the GROW model to coach. In this series of courses you will learn how to set effective and ‘SMART’ goals when setting out to coach individual staff members and how to establish a sound coaching relationship using the ‘GROW’ model strategy.