Developing coaching and mentoring skills


This guide was developed by the delegates of a holistic supervisory management programme for a local authority. Use it to develop your own mentoring skills. This structure will assist with your mentoring techniques and can be used as an everyday guide. You may have concerns about time constraints, resentment from colleagues and burden of responsibility – if so share them with your manager or training officer. Remember, if all of these points are taken into account, you should end up feeling pleased, trusted, recognised and appreciated as a mentor.

Some Definitions:

Coaching is normally a structured process that enables learning and development to occur with an objective that some aspect of performance is improved.

It is a term that has crept more and more into UK businesses in the past 15 years and was probably taken from the world of sport where a role in addition to manager was deemed to be necessary to help players and teams get the best out of themselves – so there is more focus on the performance of individuals and teams rather than wider issues of business management.

Mentoring is a less structured process of help offered by one person to another in facilitating the transfer of knowledge, ways of thinking and work experience.

Is there a difference?

As can be seen from the above definitions, there are clearly similarities between coaching and mentoring.  Mentoring has traditionally been the help offered to an individual to follow in the career path of a more mature and wiser colleague who can pass on knowledge, experience and create new career opportunities.
Coaching, however, is not generally undertaken by coaches that have direct experience of an employee’s job unless the coaching is designed to develop specific skills for the employee’s role.


Coaching and mentoring may be used in a wide range of situations. Here are a few of the more common applications:

Coping with organisational change – helping employees adapt to and embrace the change such that any fear or negativity is reduced and that the change is perceived to be consistent with their personal values and goals. Improving morale and motivation during organisational change will translate through into improved productivity, absenteeism and lower staff turnover.

Creating positive psychological contracts - achieving balance between organisational action plans and objectives and the personal development plans of individuals. Helping employees develop their strengths and career security whilst moving the organization closer to its goals is a very positive partnership.

Improving work/life balance – employers are increasingly recognizing the need to improve the quality of work/life balance and the experience of going to work. 1:1 coaching provides opportunities for employees to seek help and advice on wider issues that may be negatively impacting upon their lives at work or at home.

Improving technical/management skills – any form of group training inevitably delivers the transfer of knowledge, learning and experience without the means to personalize the pace and depth of the training to the needs of the individual. Both coaching and mentoring allow for a more precise mechanism for the delivery of personal development.

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” - Albert Einstein

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Mark Davies