Have you considered coaching and mentoring as an employee engagement strategy? If not, it might be time to do so. At a point when global statistics show that engagement is on the rise even in the wake of the unexpected 2020 we all had, it’s time to ride the wave.
Engaged employees are good for business. As such, it only makes sense to leverage the expertise you have at your disposal to clear the way for even greater levels of engagement. If knowledgeable people on your staff are willing to share their professional know-how with the next generation (or their peers), take them up on it ASAP. Here’s why.
What Is The Difference Between Coaching and Mentoring?
First up, a quick look at the fundamental difference between coaching and mentoring - two terms that are not actually synonyms.
'Coaching' refers to a very focused process that zones in on immediate goals such as effective management, problem-solving, etc. The aim is to help employees improve their performance at the hand of stretch goals by acquiring new skills in the shortest time possible. Once this has been achieved, the need for the coach often diminishes.
In the case of coaching, the manager of the employee in question can be quite involved in the process. In fact, often, they are the coach. The process is also usually transactional in nature. It can take place at any time and location. All that is required to get the ball rolling is the need for skills development, the necessary expertise, and tools for evaluation.
On the other hand, ' mentoring' refers to a long-term relationship that offers the mentee a safe haven for discussing and exploring both personal and professional goals, problems, and successes. In this case, the goal is to develop the whole person and to create a bond of shared trust that goes beyond the needs of the organisation.
Mentoring works best when an employee's manager is not directly involved. In cases where mentoring is connected to the company, they may offer suggestions. However, ideally, they should not have any official affiliation or exist within the reporting structure of the mentor. The mentorship model is transformational in nature and is not tied to a particular time frame.
How Do Coaching and Mentoring Benefit the Workplace?
1. Employee Retention
By providing employees with these added channels of support, companies ultimately lay the groundwork for improved retention rates. Mentors and coaches are a support mechanism for workers dealing with workplace challenges that can otherwise become overwhelming. By helping them learn, develop and grow, these facilitators also add to the overall employee experience.
2. In Situ Learning and Development
In the case of mentorship, both parties involved stand to learn a lot from the experience. The mentee, of course, is on the receiving end of a variety of both hard and soft skills. This includes actual industry-specific knowledge and general 'life' knowledge that will stand them in good stead as they grow in the company.
However, mentors themselves are also in the position to learn. They often refresh their understanding of specific topics outside their direct experience field. Additionally, they learn how to nurture young talent and support someone in reaching their goals. As such, it is often a requirement before a tenured employee can start to ascend the management ladder.
3. Stronger Employee Bonds
When employees are connected in a coaching or mentorship capacity, they are in a position to build new, stronger bonds. The mentor or coach can provide advice and share their wisdom. The mentee or coaching recipient has to come prepared and willing to learn. It's all based on give and take - a very fertile environment for the development of strong interpersonal ties.
4. Improved Organisational Understanding
In bigger companies, many employees only have a passing understanding of departments and job functions other than their own. These knowledge silos can often lead to an inability to connect and engage outside of their immediate sphere. Coaching and mentorship bridges this gap. It allows employees to develop an understanding of roles and functions, and add value to the whole.
Coaching and mentoring are excellent strategies to keep employees engaged. From job enrichment to skills development, making use of existing expertise within your business is a no-brainer.
By combining the short-term aspects of coaching, and the long-term aspects of mentoring, companies can boost engagement from the inside out. This leads to business results like employee retention, as well as in situ learning and development. Employees also foster stronger bonds and develop a better organisational understanding.