Mentoring or Coaching, What’s Your Vogue?

“Son… Listen to me. I’m telling you this for you­­r own good. After all, I have more experience than you!” Doesn’t this statement reminds you of your adolescent age, or perhaps early 20s; where your parents or a senior member of the project would have said this to convey something to you, while (in your head) you were fuming with your own theories about how that thing should be done. At the time, you wouldn’t realise that they have been in similar situation or they have seen others, and they only wanted to guide you: mentor you. Any informal exchange of thoughts by a person: who has been in a difficult situation (life experience), or knows more about a specific work (professional experience), or is able to motivate people with his actions in general (role model), to another (less knowledgeable) person is Mentoring.

Mentoring could be well planned of or could arise based on a situation, but the purpose should be clear. Being there with you at every step and telling you what to do is a way of mentoring, putting you in a situation and let you deal with it, leading from the front and showcasing how to deal with a situation, and once the situation has passed then discussing about your learnings and sharing a feedback; all these are techniques which a mentor can use. This process need not necessarily mean transfer of knowledge from an older person to a younger person, it could be other way round as well. For instance, a business manager grooming an associate to become a successful (data) presenter, on the other hand a teenager helping his mother to learn to use a smartphone; both these situations are of mentoring.

Mentoring is a two-way street, it allows to mentee to learn technicalities, ways to deal with situations, and progress in career; while it allows the mentor to grow by imparting his knowledge and experience, and gaining a new perspective (from every mentee). A mentor should be able to offer (morale) support and invest (social) capital in this relation oriented process; as mentoring is a long term, and development driven. Mentoring is often confused with Coaching. Unlike mentoring, coaching can be initiated in an instance, without any plan, but on a specific topic. Coaching is generally short term and is goal oriented, measured by the performance of the mentee. Any form of learning or sharing of ideas, pertaining to a situation or task with an end result in mind, between a person and his immediate boss: falls under coaching.

In most of the organisation, respective teams have team leaders or managers coaching the associates for a specific type of work. Even if the team lead tries to best-pick an associate and grooms him, it’s because he (the lead) has to get a person ready to take his place, so he can move up the hierarchy. Thus, organisations should have a mentoring programme, open to all, to improve the productivity overall. Senior managers and above should make some time to mentor junior members within the organisation, of course in a carefully planned and organised manner. The involvement of human resource department becomes more important, as the size of the organisation increases, for making such program a success. And almost impossible as it may seem, every senior member should indulge in (unconditional) mentoring of others. Earn some goodwill while you are at it. After all, respect can never be demanded, but earned!

“Leaders… should influence others… in such a way that it builds people up, encourages and edifies them so they can duplicate this attitude in others.” ~ Bob Goshen


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6 Ways To Get Better At Soft Skills

According to Harvard Business School, an individual’s technical skills account for (nearly) 15% of his growth, whereas the remaining 85% (or so) is determined by his soft skills. While the technical skills define the type of work you do, the soft skills define the kind of person you are. Every non-technical work, to its simplest form, like the way you talk or the way you walk can be thought of as a soft skill. Few of the commonly used soft skills are time management, communication, presentation, and team work. There are many more which you can find on a job descriptions, speaking with a HR, or on the internet.

Every year, millions of students graduate from their respective universities; but not everyone is able to get a job. Various researchers have found that around 15-20% of the students (globally) graduating every year are employable.

So… what makes a handful of them tick while the others fuse?

Having studied from the same college, the batch of students graduating would have same information or skills. Of course, some of them would have a natural ability to perform well, but what makes them better is the ability to do more than what they have learnt technically. Think of a job like sales or marketing where you have the knowledge to collect data, but people who are able to connect with clients and present their data in a better way will be appreciated.

Is there any way I can learn or improve?

Definitely! And the best thing is you don’t need to go back to school or college. Naturally, these wouldn’t be easy, at times, or within your comfort zone. And, the first and foremost thing would need is an intent or willingness to learn and change. There are trainings provided by most of the organisations, if not then you can find incredible amount of study material online. But, before you search for course material you should be aware of areas which you want to improve upon. A good to way to do that is self-assessment and taking feedback from your peers and supervisors.

Trying to gulp it all at once could lead to a lost cause. Define certain goals around the skills you want to hone, and repeatedly practice them in your daily routine. Always remember, it’s not about changing others but you and you only. So, don’t force this upon others, however, finding a partner would put it on a fast track. Things we learn since childhood days are difficult to let go, and learning a new skill pushes us to do that. It’s like changing your behaviour, the way you perceive things, and the way you deal with a situation.

There would be times when you would want to quit, the easy way out; but remember it’s a need rather than a want. In order to progress in your career you need to get better at these. Any new skill would start with learning to self-manage.

“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Author speaks: I’m not here to change the world; I intend to make an impact on one soul at a time. If you like my work, please press Like, or better yet put a Comment; perhaps a feedback. However, the best appreciation of my work will be to Share this with your friends and your social circles (FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, G+, and others).

Thanks in advance!