April 24, 2017

Mentoring and coaching: Essential leadership qualities

Mentoring and coaching: Essential leadership qualities featured image

Mentoring and coaching can be excellent new elements for a manager’s tool kit.

Mentoring is a valuable element of the manager's tool kit.

Mentoring is a valuable element of the manager’s tool kit.

Leaders don’t just take the reins of their teams in a big-picture sense. In today’s office environment, it’s important for a manager or supervisor to be someone who can influence and help individual employees, leading each to excellence. Mentoring and coaching can boost retention, as well as skills, with workers learning from longer-tenured peers and feeling their personal goals are receiving the support and attention they deserve.
Implementing such a system is far from automatic, however. There are distinctive best practices to ensure mentorship gains the intended results. When organizations become hotbeds of effective mentoring and coaching, their teams unite into powerful units that share knowledge, skills and hard-earned experience.
Honesty and trust are musts
While managers should support their mentorship programs in an official capacity if the want them to flourish, this doesn’t mean they should let numbers and checklists take over. The Harvard Business Review recently explained how ideal mentoring comes down to rapport and honest exchange of ideas, rather than practices that are too meticulously planned. Mentorship is based on forming a bond of trust rather than working through a planned syllabus. This makes such a program harder to implement – but the results will be worthwhile.
The source also specified that mentors should be in service to their mentees, giving honest and straightforward advice that helps those individuals progress. This may sometimes mean deviating from the official company line or encouraging the junior employee to seek a new and different role. The honesty involved in such a process is worth more than whatever value is to be gained by urging the worker to stay in a current role, whatever the cost.
From a mentee’s perspective, being urged to stay in a role that isn’t a good fit would likely erode any bond of trust with the mentor and any chance for an honest exchange. The HBR pointed out that mentoring is, at its core, about employees being good to one another as people. An environment that fosters this positive attitude is likely to be a healthy place where ideas thrive, especially compared to a version where more rigid policies compromise honesty.
Coaching the millennial employee
Young workers may be especially receptive to the more attentive approach to management embodied by mentoring and coaching. Forbes Coaches Council contributor Derek Matthews explained that young workers have come to expect leaders to check in on them more frequently than was normal in previous generations. These millennial employees are interested in getting feedback on their personal growth and development, meaning that dedicated coaching for under-35 workers may help companies live up to their expectations, becoming an essential loyalty-builder rather than an optional add-on.
When it comes to archetypal millennial, leaders may expect a worker who is focused on personal development, perhaps with plans to jump to another company. Instead of trying to push back against this attitude, savvy leaders will play into it, offering conscientious and consistent coaching to ensure young employees know the company supports them. Matthews specified that today’s new hires are looking to become a “better version of themselves.” Organizations that push them in that direction could win their trust and loyalty.
Learning to teach
There are a variety of courses on mentoring available from MasteryTCN, including one specifically aimed at Generation Y and more specifically aimed at explaining the different roles of leader and coach. At first, it’s normal for leaders to be unsure of mentoring best practices; this is a very particular kind of management, one with its own best practices and requirements. Individuals who put in the time and effort and learn to be better mentors and coaches  for their teams, creating an environment of honesty and mutual support.

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