A Whole New Ballgame for Coaching and Mentoring

Coaching and mentoring now go way beyond helping someone advance in their career or pursue their dreams. Employees are looking to their leaders, coaches, and mentors for guidance and support to get through these continued challenging times.

A few months ago, I read a Facebook post from a mentor that sent a jolt straight to my heart. One of the strongest, fiercest, most resilient people I’ve ever known revealed she had contemplated taking her own life at one point during the pandemic

That was an incredibly stark reminder to me of the astronomic toll COVID-19 continues to take, even as we talk about how to adjust to the “new normal” supposedly occurring in both our professional and personal lives. In the workplace, organizations often look to coaching and mentoring to help employees cope with change—something we’ve seen a whole lot of over the last two years. But coaching and mentoring now go way beyond helping someone advance in their career or pursue their dreams. In fact, it’s a whole new ballgame. Amidst health and safety concerns and the sudden shift to remote work, followed by a new hybrid work environment for some as pandemic restrictions ease, many employees have experienced depression, anxiety, work overload, and burnout—and they are looking to their leaders, coaches, and mentors for guidance and support to get through these continued challenging times.

“As the lines between professional and personal life have become blurred, today’s leaders find themselves leading traumatized teams while they, too, have endured a challenging situation. Many executive coaches find they are being called upon to provide mental health support to leaders who may themselves be struggling, stressed, and feeling depressed. As a result, many coaches are integrating therapeutic skills and practices into their services,” explains Trilogy Effect Managing Partner Heather Marasse in “Leading and Coaching a Traumatized Team.”

Marasse details a therapeutic framework called IFS (Internal Family Systems) that can be used to supplement a coach’s toolkit. The IFS model helps people reclaim their authentic center, or Self, which is rooted in connection, compassion, creativity, clarity, curiosity, calm, confidence, and courage.

Dovetailing with that model, Institute for Health and Human Potential Partner Bill Benjamin notes, “you can’t be a great coach who develops and inspires people if you only focus on their behaviors.” Instead, he writes in “You Can’t Be a Great Coach Without this Skill,” “you need to learn the Emotional Intelligencebased skill of connecting to the emotional needs that drive their behaviors.”

Coaching and personalized development also are key to ensure you’re not losing talented minority and underrepresented employees as the Great Resignation wave continues to roll across the nation, according to Kristy McCann Flynn, co-founder and CEO at GoCoach. “According to PwC survey data, women, Hispanic, and Black employees are more likely to be looking for new opportunities during this age of the Great Resignation. Nothing makes your people feel included and supported by your culture like coaching. Licensed coaching can make a huge difference in the career paths of minority and underrepresented employees,” she writes in “Learning for All: A Solid Path to DEI.”

Managers as Coaches

Many organizations expect their managers to do the coaching, but that can be challenging. According to an October 2021 survey by Balto of 515 contact center managers:

  • Managers spend five times more time prepping than coaching. On average, managers reported spending two to three hours preparing for each coaching session, while doing 34 minutes of actual coaching.
  • The first coaching session is almost never effective. Some 92 percent of surveyed managers reported they coach an agent two or more times before they consistently implement a skill on calls.
  • Managers who oversee largely hybrid or in-person agents reported an average of six coaching sessions per month. Managers who oversee remote agents reported an average of seven, showing that remote agents get coached more often. Surprisingly, managers reported similar coaching effectiveness between fully remote teams and in-office teams.

Dr. Britt Andreatta, author and former CLO for Lynda.com (now LinkedIn Learning), believes managers are the single most influential relationship any of your employees will have at your organization. “Perhaps your most powerful and affordable option is to train your managers and leaders to be coaches,” she writes in  “How to Use Coaching and Mentoring to Upskill Your Employees.” “With practice, they can infuse great coaching into everything they do.”

As we continue to live in a time defined by remote and hybrid work, technology also is playing a bigger role in coaching and mentoring, according to Rashim Mogha, general manager of Leadership and Business Solutions at Skillsoft. “Foster the need for remote mentorship through the many options of videoconference calls and instant messaging software,” she advises in “Mentorship in a Digital Workplace.” “Match mentors and mentees who may not typically have interacted, but now can through the power of technology that can break down communication barriers at a distance.”

The Power of Recognition

Recognition should continue to be a critical part of the mentor/mentee relationship. Every year, I look forward to receiving the nominations for our Emerging Training Leaders awards program and seeing how mentors take the time to detail their mentees’ accomplishments and contributions to their organizations. Often, past winners nominate their own direct reports or colleagues, paying the recognition forward.

Please consider nominating one of your colleagues, managers, or direct reports—at your organization or at a customer or vendor’s organization. The program aims to recognize professionals who have been in the training/learning and development (L&D) industry between 2 and 10 years, and have demonstrated exceptional leadership skills, business savvy, and training instincts. Each company can nominate up to two candidates (no self-nominations, please). There is no fee to nominate someone, and the deadline is June 20. For more details on the program and to download the 2022 nomination form, click here.

And while recognition is crucial, compensation is important, too. Our annual Salary Survey will be published in the November 2022 issue of Training and will allow you to see how your salary benchmarks against those of your peers and the industry. Please help us to capture an accurate accounting of compensation in the L&D industry by participating in our Salary Survey by June 6 (please click here). Survey-takers will be entered into a drawing for 1 of 2 AMEX gift cards or a free registration to the TechLearn Conference in Austin, TX, Sept. 20-22 ($1,595 value).

Hopefully, you can leverage the results to score a well-deserved raise!

Lorri Freifeld
Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.