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Dear Workforce How Can We Provide Mentoring For Future Supervisors

Try a coaching program instead -- it’s targeted to individuals and specific to organizational goals as well.
August 1, 2001
Related Topics: Career Development, Employee Career Development, Dear Workforce

Dear Workforce:

How can we implement a mentoring program for associates who have expressed adesire to assume future supervisory roles with our company? What should weincorporate?

- HR Coordinator, Hingham,Massachusetts.

A Dear HR in Hingham:

If you are serious about these individuals being successful in supervisoryroles, then I would recommend you implement a coaching program, rather than amentoring program. Coaching is targeted to the individual and is specific toorganizational goals.

Coaching is an effective strategy for individuals who are placed in stretchassignments, or if you have high-potential individuals who could be fast-trackedfor leadership positions.

Here's a quick summary of the differences between coaching and mentoring:




Scope: Raising performance expectations Organizational, career, or personal transitions
Focus: Task-centered - links individual effectiveness to organizational performance Possibility-centered - options/exploration, not necessarily linked to organizational performance
Purpose: Develop and select options for behavior modification for improvedorganizational performance. Address individuals' identity in the context of the bigger picture(both inside and outside the organization).
Led By: Professional executive coach. Professional independent of organization ("off-line").

To select a coach, keep the following critical competencies in mind. Thecoach should have a mix of real-world business experience and personalcharacteristics, including:

  • High-level business experience. For the relationship to work, the executiveand the coach must be peers. To be able to provide appropriate guidance, thecoach should have not only worked in the corporate world, but also have heldsenior line positions.

  • Interpersonal skills. The coach must be adept at handling all sorts ofcomplex, touchy interpersonal dynamics, at sizing up a situation quickly, anddealing with a variety of personalities. Good listening skills are critical,too.

  • Integrity. Executive coaching often involves discussing not only sensitivepersonal issues, but also high-level, strategic, confidential information.Honesty and the ability not to betray a confidence are essential.

  • Political savvy. To be effective, executives must be able to navigate thetricky political waters of their organization. A competent coach needs to be upto helping him or her do that.

  • Flexibility and creativity. You never quite know what's going to happen whenlots of egos, ambitions, and agendas collide. And that calls for the ability toturn on a dime, to come up with new solutions when necessary, to be able todiscard ideas when they seem ineffective, and come up with new ones -- fast. Atthe same time, the coach should be comfortable with ambiguity, fast change andlots of uncertainty.

  • Tough love. Ultimately coaching is all about achieving real, bottom-lineresults. The coach needs to be able to confront tough issues, hold peopleaccountable, and demand tangible outcomes.

  • Comfort at the top. Unless a coach relates to upper management andunderstands the expectations of boards and shareholders, he won't be able tograsp the subtleties of each coaching situation.

  • Organizational insight. The goal of executive coaching is to strengthen aperson's performance, but only as it relates to real corporate objectives. Thatrequires an understanding of both the executive's and the company's needs, andhow to make them work together to achieve clearly defined goals.

If the individuals moving to a leadership role have the basic competencies todo the job, then coaching will help you ensure success for both them and theorganization.

SOURCE: Bobbie Little, director, executive advisory services, The Center ForExecutive Options, Raleigh, N.C., part of Drake BeamMorin, April 6, 2001.

LEARN MORE: See, "Developing ChampionPlayers," to learn how individual growth and motivation are important tobeing a team player.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide usefulinformation on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice ora legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.



 The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

If you have any questions or concerns about, please email or call 312-676-9900.

The Workforce fax number is 312-676-9901.

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