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Coaching and mentoring: a fad or here to stay?

Coaching and mentoring: a fad or here to stay?

By Bill Price who can be contacted at www.vip-institute.co.za;

1. Introduction

Since mentoring was a reality in the days of the goddess Athena there have been business processes and methodologies that have come and gone. The good old PLOC method that is taught in our business colleges and institutions has indeed walked a road and has come a long way.

Coaching and mentoring has taken off in Europe and in the USA before it has with us but the fad has begun here just like the Balanced Score Card which has walked the road of fist the book, then the conferences, then the workshops then the more conferences and workshops and then it becomes part and parcel of the business world in their systems and strategic criteria nd structures.

The big question is will coaching and mentoring be a "fad" or is it the management and leadership tool of the century?

More and more companies that enquire of me are starting to look into the possibilities of coaching and mentoring as a third millennium management tool. Some are cautious and others simply, some times blindly, "Believe" and simply go for it and apply the principles and hope for the best. This is the golden opportunity age for those trainers and consultants who have now adapted their strategy to inform the world of business that they are now also "suddenly" coaches and mentors.

The world is changing and the business world is fast realising that they have to think differently about human talent and potential and enhancement of skills, especially in our ever-forming South Africa. The life-long science of empowering others is now the name of the new HR game in company strategies.

Coaching and mentoring is the only fast-tracking [process that has direct influence which proportionately affects the production and outcomes of people and companies in astounding ways (that’s when it is done properly and professionally I add).

The ways company relationships, teamness, collective focus, mutual support, application of knowledge with business impact as a result, are directly affected, is simply astounding in terms of results. It is indeed relevant to our new day and we had better take a long and well-planned strategic look at how best to position the work world for this dynamic duet.

2. Standards and norms and benchmarking.

The reality is that whenever one finds a new trend emerging that there are always those who get in first for the sole purpose of positioning themselves and for big bucks of course. That’s business for the world of consulting and training so they assure the business world of all sorts of things such as their experience, skills, knowledge and courses that will empower and do all the fix-it things that they promise. Sometimes they ignore the real issues like "company Fit" and the culture and ethos of the company before they simply apply the book knowledge they have summarised and re-written as their own.

There is cry from the ranks of those that are passionate about coaching and mentoring excellence to get together and develop the kind of standards that need to be applied to the world of professional business coaching and mentoring. Organisations like the newly formed International Coach Federation S African chapter are spearheading the meeting of the minds and offering willing open-mindedness to approach all interested parties to get together and come p with a set of standards that will speak of the kind of excellence the science of coaching and mentoring deserves.

I have been invited to attend such meetings and am looking forward to this becoming a reality. My only fear is that the will to power (as Fredrick Niche stated) will not also sabotage the entire process. Pity if it will. But I think we stand a good chance of a national representative body appointed and recognised to get the process of standardisation and quality control going. In fact it is now very urgent. "We need a single set of standards for business and life coaches and it would be even better if we could also have one representative body to uphold the integrity and quality of the profession." as quoted in the article "A question of standards" in the Convergence Magazine of Vol4 N0 1.

I personally believe that the best group to come up with the standards are the coaching fraternity themselves and that the NQF and SAQA play the vital role of recognising these as standards and norms. I also believe that we also need to incorporate the international ethics and standards and competencies presently available for the coaching industry. Presently it is legal for anyone to advertise himself or herself as a coach and simply make tings happen from there with whom ever believes in their skills and abilities.

Coaching is still in its infancy stages of growth ad the time is now to Name the baby and feed it the right kind of supplements to make it grow into a professional and great value-adding profession to the business and general public at large. I also agree with Mr. Kurt April of the Graduate School of Business of the University of Cape Town, that we need to create the standards and simultaneously begin with on-going research to scientifically validate materials which work in a Southern African context.

Some of the groups that need to get the act on stage could include: Board of Personnel Practitioners; Experienced Coaches; Coach trainers; Corporate Governance employees; HR Practitioners from a senior level; management consultants; people development practitioners; NQF/ SETA /SAQA; psychologists; therapists; Chamber of Business and Universities and Techikons.

3. Business Challenges of the future

Seeing that we are all headed toward the future and we are definitely headed there together, we need to understand the dynamics of the changing world of business. Like never before the HR team are being challenged to become far more value-added in their strategic focus. People performance is now more important than ever and talent and skills is the order of the day.

It goes to employability and constantly adding value or be" asked to move on", as Jack Welch puts it. Customer demands are now more demanding than ever and their expectations can no longer be expected to fit into our paln and they way we do business around here! They are now top dog. Customer satisfaction and their dreams for the future are the future of any business and any CEO who does not ask their customers directly and regularly, regarding where they are headed, is declaring themselves incompetent and in the fellowship of the foolish.

Increased customer knowledge,(both inside and outside) is absolutely essential to the sustainability of any company. Even if we sometimes say we are on the planet of the third world when it comes to customer service and delivery.

Companies need people and they need to empower the personal potential growth curve of everyone in their company and what a better way of doing so than through the powerful methodology of coaching and mentoring by their line managers and supervisors.

If business is going to face the challenges of the future they will have to pay closer attention to strategic focus and roll-out, people processes, delivery of business goals and financial performance. Coaching and mentoring directly and quickly add value to all of these areas if done with professionalism and expertise in action.

4. Challenges the coaching and mentoring fraternity face in the future.

Coaching and mentoring is still in its infancy and there has to be a focus on:

>> Standards being set

>> On-going research being done to prove their case in the "scientific court"

>> People wanting to make money from business that can be so gullible sometimes it is actually scary!

>> People wanting the power of control and financial benefit in the forming of "national bodies" in the name of representation and transparency.

>> The ‘don’t care attitude’ of business sometimes that simply wants results at the expense of thoroughness.

>> Quality control: Knowing when they are crossing the thin line of psychotherapy, remedial work and counselling. Competitiveness at the expense of standards and quality. Competency levels, professionalism and excellence of the profession.

>> Sharing knowledge or not due to a "scarcity mentality" and "one-up-man ship" amongst coaches and coach trainers. Playing the BEE –game as to score points with companies and not applying competency first rules to all who are advertised as coaches.

Not coaching with the knowledge of the company culture in which coaching will take place. Just taking substance from books and thinking that each and every model will apply to the South AFRICAN CONTEXT.

The greatest challenge is to keep it pure and available for the business and private world so that all will derive maximum benefit. Coaching and mentoring is going to be with us for much longer than some might think. It is the management tool of the century and needs to be nourished accordingly. It needs to be discovered and developed on an on-going process and there has to be very little room for selfishness and profiteering at the expense of the science.

Companies need people and talented people at that because they are learning costly experiences that better talent does make a huge difference. They also have to come to grips with the realities that they have a younger generation in their ranks that are mobile and their commitment is short-term focused and they simply demand much more.

The older generation manager does not like the new generation goes totally into "autocratic-mode" when challenged and confronted by this new generation. This is also seen our religious institutions and churches where they are given recognition in old generational ways. It will never work!

Coaching is the most respectful and focused methodology in the business world today and will produce great results when applied in the way that it must and can be applied within the company strategy specifics.

When coaching is linked to the following:

>> The company strategic objectives and deliverables.

>> The key performance areas of each person being coached.

>> The values of both the person being coached and the company’s.

>> Coaching competencies and profile criteria.

>> Personal skills and competencies.

>> Well-formed project outcomes that are measurable and achievable yet stretching.

>> The company performance standards and measurements and system.

>> Evaluation that is both fair, mutually agreed upon by all stakeholders and focused on the desired outcomes and the potential of the people in the company. It also must be done regularly.

>> The hearts and souls of the managers from top down in the structure.

>> The process, details and clearly defined results desired for outstanding performance.

>> Well planned prior to implementation in the company. The atmosphere of the company needs to be well read as accepting before any coaching applications are implemented.

>> Coaching criteria of excellence

>> Mutual trust and commitment not to allow the company "viruses" (such as "we are so busy around here?,") to short circuit great creativity which can be applied to change anything, even the golden calves in business. ,it will be far more effective in terms of its short , medium and long-term results.

Coaching and mentoring will be around for a long, long time because there are very professional and qualified business and life coaches and trainers that have the value of the process at more than the rollout in order to make money only.

Once the world of business is at the receiving end of excellent service providers which are governed by their hearts, ethics to stand by the kind of standards that will make a difference and high levels of added value to the world of business, industry and commerce as well as the public sector it will become far more entrenched and the momentum will take us to new heights of self development and discovery within the South African context.

The commitment of every HR professional and all other stakeholders in companies, especially the Managing directors and CEO’s and Board Directors needs to be experienced on the shop and office floors. Especially, if they lead by example. After all, you can only improve with coaching and mentoring and it is definitely not for sissies, as "excusitis and the blame-games " that people play and are involved in, in companies and that keep the strategy from being the best version that it can be, is taken on head-on by the methodology of coaching and mentoring.

When you make your decision to select a coaching and mentoring provider ask around and find out who is being coached and get the scoop first hand before you invite the provider to make a presentation. Your company deserves the best so do not stop until you get exactly that! It also does not mean that you only get the best from organisations, institutions and business schools. There are a few well-experienced providers out there that can be amazing in terms of effectively coaching and mentoring toward desired outcomes and results.

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Gary Watkins

Gary Watkins

Managing Director


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