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Being a coach and mentor is one of the most rewarding jobs on the planet. You get to invest your expertise into people and watch them grow from strength to strength.
Though, it can be really challenging because you’re working with people’s hopes and dreams — and sometimes they expect you to have all the answers. When in reality, your job is to help them find the answers from a combination of mentee and mentor experiences.
“The ‘sweet spot’ is somewhere in between — having clarity about general direction and what you want from a job in terms of how it builds on your strengths, how it allows you to grow and how it aligns with your own values and sense of life purpose.”
Coaching is a great way to help others expand their potential. Recently, the value of mentorship and coaching has become a staple for career driven people because it offers them access to proven and real world strategies that they can use to achieve their own success — the stuff that you can’t get from courses and academia!
However, coaches have immense responsibility because they’re dealing directly with the hopes and dreams of others. All successful coaches know what an amazing experience it is to see someone going from strength to strength because of their advice, but it can also be high pressure and frustrating when you have a client who is just not seeing any results.
Here’s how you can best help your mentees through your coaching.
What is a coach’s job?
The term coach is borrowed by businesses everywhere. It comes from the sports field where players need to work together under one cohesive vision.
The value of a coach is in their expert opinion and objective perspective which allows ‘players’ to get an unbiased view of their skills. A coach builds on their team’s strengths whilst fixing their weakness. They come up with tailored strategies and tactics that are based on knowledge and expertise to give their team the best chance possible at achieving their collective goal.
The job of a coach is simple: to get the best out of people.
As a career coach or mentor, you’ll likely be working with individuals, one-on-one. You’ll notice that your mentees will have tension and stress around not knowing what to do next, or being unclear about what their goals are.
A coach needs to foster clear thinking in their mentees by uncovering their hopes, dreams, goals and purpose. By clarifying and then prioritising goals and ambitions then mentors can support in creating plans, pathways and roadmaps.
Helping mentees find and maintain clarity on purpose and pathway is really important.
“The ‘sweet spot’ is somewhere in between — having clarity about general direction and what you want from a job in terms of how it builds on your strengths, how it allows you to grow and how it aligns with your own values and sense of life purpose.” – Steven Cutterback
Promoting decision making
A great coach and mentor works their way out of their mentee’s life. They know that every coaching relationship must have a clear beginning and end.
This means that you want to teach and prepare your mentees to take ownership of their life and not to become too reliant on you — because, at the end of the day, it’s their life, and they’re in the driver’s seat.
This means that building confidence and promoting decision making is a must. As a coach, be careful not to steer your mentees toward any specific choice, you have to provide knowledge as best as you can, but you can’t take their power away by pushing them toward something, even if you think it’s for the best— they have to come to their own decisions.
Supporting mentees to make good decisions can involve a number of factors. The most important is a sound decision making process, that they can replicate and lean into time and again.
1. Encouraging them to explore and know their own mind.
2. Understand all the options, even the ones they hadn't thought of - which means not rushing.
3. Understanding, risks, benefits and consequences.
4. Being fully informed and gaining meaningful advice from knowledgable sources (accessing a mentor or coach is sometimes part of this process!)
5. Weighing the factors.
6. Teaching them to have the confidence to trust their judgement, and be ok with their decision no matter what the outcome may be.
You’ve just helped them take ownership and be confident in their vision of how they want their lives to be.
Defining growth and progress
“The analogy for modern careers is not a train on the tracks to a terminus, but a sailing boat setting out on a voyage of discovery. We are all at whim of the winds and tides, tacking and adjusting the sails continuously to take the greatest advantage of them. The role of the mentor in relation to career advice is to raise the mentee’s awareness and help them make better choices.”— David Cutterback
We need clear metrics to ensure that our mentees are growing. But, the mentee has to be responsible for defining these metrics.
As a coach and mentor, your job is to make sure that they define metrics for both ‘integral’ and ‘reputational’ aspects of their life.
Integral aspects are how mentees see themselves and reputational aspects are how others see them.
The Art of Mentoring defines the common integral and reputational aspects that most mentees aim for.
Common integral aspects:
- The number or range of projects they are involved in
- Rank on the leadership hierarchy
- Job satisfaction
- Rate of learning new thing
- Experience in high developmental roles
- Involved in high-profile team projects
- Being perceived as a “talent to keep an eye on”