No training for the coaches

2004

Coaching and mentoring are essential tools in developing skills and knowledge within organisations. But only one in five organisations provide guidance and training for the managers who are expected to deliver them.

A survey carried out for the Work Foundation’s ‘Coaching and Mentoring Managing Best Practice guide’ has found that more than eight out of ten organisations use coaching and three-quarters use mentoring.

But this widespread popularity is not reflected in giving training to coaches and mentors, with only one in five of the organisations surveyed saying that they always provide guidance or training to their coaches and mentors.

Both coaching, which is broadly focused on current performance issues, and mentoring, which tends to develop long-term skills and career prospects, trickle down through organisations. Senior managers work with middle managers, middle managers with their juniors.

More than six out of ten organisations used coaching to develop job-specific or technical skills, followed by half for management development and a fraction less for leadership skills. So coaching, it would appear, is seen as having practical, well-defined, job-related applications.

In contrast the most popular use for mentoring is familiarising new recruits with the organisation, but no one reason really stands out. This reflects the longer-term, more nebulous benefits of mentoring.

The criteria for becoming a coach centre on appropriate experience, good communication skills and the ability to act as good role model. Similar attributes are sought in mentors with just over half of respondent organisations looking for experience and a similar proportion for the ability to act as a good role model.

"It is encouraging that so many organisations are recognising the benefits of coaching and mentoring", said the Work Foundation's Stephen Bevan. "What is worrying, however, is that so few are prepared to invest in competent practice.

"A good coach or mentor can make a massive difference to individual and organisational performance. But a bad one can be an 'unguided' missile and do considerable damage."