In a Word Coaching and mentoring can inspire and empower employees, build commitment, increase productivity, grow talent , and promote success. They are now essential elements of modern managerial practice. However, many companies still have not established related schemes. By not doing so, they also fail to capitalize on the experience and knowledge seasoned personnel can pass on.


High-performance, contemporary organizations know that a company is only as good as its employees. They place strong emphasis on personal attributes in selecting and developing staff. However, this does not come without challenges, not least of which may be (significant) gaps in the experience, knowledge, attitudes, skills, aspirations, behaviors, or leadership required to perform demanding jobs. Formal training courses may vaunt wholesale transfer of these; but employees will not likely stretch to their full potential without dedicated guidance that inspires, energizes, and facilitates. In the new millennium,Footnote 1 good coaching and mentoring schemes are deemed a highly effective way to help people, through talking, increase self-direction, self-esteem, efficacy, and accomplishments.


Both coaching and mentoring are an approach to management and a set of skills to nurture staff and deliver results. They are, fundamentally, learning and development activities that share similar roots despite lively debate among academics and practitioners as to the meaning (and implications) of each word.Footnote 2 A good coach will also mentor and a good mentor will coach too, as appropriate to the situation and the relationship. Hence, these Knowledge Solutions treat the two terms interchangeably: both are related processes for analysis, reflection, and action, intended to enable employees achieve their full potential with a focus on skills , performance, and “life” (personal) coaching and mentoring.Footnote 3 (A substantial side effect of investments to bring out potential is that organizations will enable seasoned personnel to delegate more and supervise less.)Footnote 4 Unlike conventional training, coaching and mentoring focus on the person, not the subject; they draw out rather than put in; they develop rather than impose; they reflect rather than direct; they are continuous—not one-time—events. In brief, they are a form of change facilitation.

To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.

—John Henry Newman


Coaching and mentoring can be used whenever performance or motivation levels must be increased. There are many applications, each to be looked at from as many points of view as possible. Recurring opportunities relate to developing careers, solving problems, overcoming conflicts, and remotivating staff. In all instances, feedback should be specific, factual, and objective. (Ideally, the final stage of a coaching and mentoring cycle should form a platform from which to initiate another, with a view to long-term learning and development.)


For any single coaching and mentoring goal, there is a cycle of six basic stages, each of which hinges on effective questioning, active listening , clear feedback, and well-organized sessions. First, the mentor coach and the client get to know one another to establish clarity and rapport, engage, and agree what the goal isFootnote 5; second, they discuss the current reality, to which the mentor coach will adapt the coaching and mentoring styleFootnote 6; third, they explore available options; fourth, they identify and commit to a course of action (at a pace the client is comfortable with) in line with shared expectations (that might involve training); fifth, the client implements the agreed actions with the support of and clear (meaning constructive and positive) feedback from the coach; sixth, the mentor coach and the client consider what has been learned and how they might build on that knowledge, possibly by initiating a new coaching and mentoring cycle. All the while, the mentor coach should, with empathy and sensitivity, encourage the client to come to his or her own conclusions. Mentor coaches must have a high degree of emotional intelligence, viz., self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation, social awareness, and social skills.Footnote 7 This is essential to achieving a good relationship that combines autonomy and shared responsibility toward accomplishment of the performance goal . Last but not least, everything that is said must remain confidential .

I don’t know any other way to lead but by example.

—Don Shula


The purpose of appraisal is to identify accomplishments and make sure new performance goals are realistic. Appraisal will call for a joint review and a development plan. The joint review should cover (i) the last period’s objectives, (ii) examples of achievements, (iii) the client’s self-rating, (iv) the mentor coach’s appreciation, (v) the next period’s objectives, and (vi) the client’s comments on these. The development plan should specify (i) the long-term objectives, (ii) immediate objectives, (iii) the competencies required, (iv) training needs (if any), (v) the actions agreed , and (vi) the review date agreed.


Evaluation determines merit or worth, assesses impact, identifies improvements, and provides accountability. When assessing coaching and mentoring programs, five critical levels of performance, for which data and information must be gathered and analyzed, apply:

  • Level 1: reaction (did the clients like the interventions?)

  • Level 2: learning and development (did the clients benefit as planned?)

  • Level 3: organizational support (did the clients receive the institutional support needed?)

  • Level 4: behavior (do the clients apply their learning and new competencies in the workplace)

  • Level 5: results (what is the impact on the organization?)

The miracle, or the power, that elevates the few is to be found in their industry, application, and perseverance under the prompting of a brave, determined spirit.

—Mark Twain


All development is self-development. One cannot force employees to develop: they must want that themselves.Footnote 8 Nonetheless, what an organization can do is to help set an environment that makes it more likely its staff will want to learn, grow, and succeed.

Yet when asked to spend time with an unknown and unproven young man seeking his way in the world, Drucker freely gave the better part of a day to mentor and give guidance. I had the honor of writing about that day in the foreword to “The Daily Drucker,” wherein I recount how Drucker altered the trajectory of my life by framing our discussion around one simple question: “What do you want to contribute?”

Source Excerpted from Collins (2005)