14 May 2019 - The benefits of mentoring and coaching

I've been a recognised mentor in the last few companies that I have worked at. I've been an informal mentor at other places and not been aware about it at the time. What's the difference you maybe wondering? Well the former were specific mentor/mentee programs set up by the companies to bring people together to help with personal development. The latter happened to me, on multiple occasions when, for instance, at the end of a project a person told me that I had been their mentor and they had learnt so much.

What is a mentor? It's someone who can give their time to someone else. That time can be spent listening to the mentee but also to give advice based on their own professional or life experiences. 

Businesses are now recognising that a mentor/mentee relationship can provide intrinsic benefits to the bottom line. Here's how; 
1. Setting up a formal mentor/mentee programme internally shows the employees that the business considers professional development.
2. A mentor/mentee programme can be very low cost to run. You are using your own internal people to connect.
3. A mentor shouldn't be a direct manager to the mentee. This means that the mentee can potentially have at least 2 avenues for support at work, their manager and mentor. 
4. A healthy mentor/mentee relationship may cover many topic areas for discussion but the main aim is to impart knowledge, advice and possibly new skills. 
5. A mentor/mentee should connect on a regular basis and this allows for reinforcement of subject areas. This time investment can be more productive than just attending a one-off training course as it allows the mentee time to reflect and confirm notions that have been previously covered.
6. A mentor/mentee relationship can promote a positive bond and possibly encourage staff retention as any possible gripes or skills imbalance can be addressed before they need to be escalated.

In essence, a mentor/mentee programme can be a very positive thing to both businesses and those who contribute. It's not just the mentee that gains value, as a mentor I have taken benefit from my associations with my mentees. It's a very rewarding journey. As a mentor I have been so proud to see how some of my mentees have flourished. 

I give them the safe space to ask those 'stupid' questions that they would never want to ask a manager or colleague for fear of being shown up. Building that rapport in the first place means that my mentees have the ability to ask me anything, literally anything. At times when we meet our conversations seem so off topic, just a gossip to an outsider but these are the important foundation building chats that can open up the harder conversations. It then you find out about the person, what they want to achieve, their fears, their blockers. That's when your experience can help. Being open to them to talk over the mistakes you made shows the mentee that you can over come blockers, manage that fear and achieve your goals. 

I am open to being a mentee myself as I can keep learning from people. The fact is, we are mentors and mentees all the time. There are people that I'm drawn to who have helped keep me sane (it's a big ask, I know) during crazy project times and I continue to seek their guidance to help maintain that inner balance. I then swap roles and put my mentor hat back on as I can help with other aspects that they may have questions about. 

On a different subject, coaching is now becoming more accepted in business society. To have a business/life coach, often for leaders is a progressive thing.

Coaching is often discussed in at the same time as mentoring as both refer to an ongoing relationship where the purpose is to provide developmental support. 

Yet there is a fundamental difference in that a coach will empower their coachee to unlock their own potential.

The coach will not look to impart their knowledge, in fact the coach may not be an expert in the topic being discussed. This requires a different approach as the coachee will need to bring their own topic “I would like to be better at...” or “I would like to achieve...” They will find that they are asked questions to enable them to think differently about this challenge and uncover their own solution. The coach is acting as a catalyst in this process.

Both mentors and managers may adopt a coaching style. This tends to be where they share their own knowledge while still encouraging independent thought rather than simply providing answers to questions. However this would not usually feature such deep thinking as a dedicated coach and the solution will contain a significant amount of the mentor or manager’s own input.

As part of London Admins Salesforce Community I am planning to bring back the mentor/mentee programme and introduce coaching opportunities so we will be kicking this off in the next couple of weeks. 

If you're interested to learn more and would like to sign up to register for the mentor/mentee programme and/or become a coachee then please complete this form:


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