Growing Season

Coaching and mentoring can help employees brush up on current skills and acquire new ones to build their performance portfolio and nurture the seeds for success.

Spring is in the air! The flowers are blooming, the leaves are sprouting, the grass is greening up (and baseball is back—Go Mets!). Tis the season for growth, renewal, and rebirth.

For employees, it is the perfect time to brush up on current skills and acquire new ones to build their performance portfolio and help them achieve their career aspirations. Coaching and mentoring can play a major role in making that happen.

In fact, employees rank mentoring and coaching as the #1 way they learn at work, according to Valoir’s new report, The Future of Learning at Work, based on a survey of more than 1,000 employees in North America and Europe. So it’s not surprising that the coaching industry’s valuation is predicted to increase by $5 billion over the next several years, according to CoachHub’s research. In fact, 89 percent of respondents who use coaching products predict an increase in coaching investments over the next 12 months, reveals Jonathan Passmore, senior vice president of Coaching at CoachHub. Further, he says, 47 percent of respondents plan to reskill or upskill their people to support business changes.

Lack of Technology

That said, Valoir’s report shows fewer than 2 in 10 employees currently give their company an “A” grade for supporting mentoring and coaching. Of note, fewer than half of the companies have any technology to support mentoring and coaching—an important enabler when in-office mentoring may not be possible with so many companies continuing remote or hybrid work environments created during the pandemic.

CoachHub’s Passmore notes that digital coaching provides personalized programs so employees can focus on specific areas where they need extra support, such as certain behavioral skills.

On the sales side, Erica Schultz, chief marketing officer at sales training company RAIN Group, offers five best practices for managers to coach sellers on sales conversations. These include providing artificial intelligence-driven coaching, holding live simulations, and sharing recorded simulations.

One company that has found virtual mentoring to be particularly effective is SAP—a highly distributed organization with more than 105,000 employees in locations around the world. In his article, Mark Crofton, head of Sales Enablement at SAP, offers three tips to transform virtual mentoring and coaching programs.

Mentoring Best Practices

Chronus recently released its new Mentoring Benchmarks Report: Quit Navigating in the Dark, which pulled from a deep dive of 2,700 mentoring programs across 4.5 million participants and spotlights benchmarks and best practices for mentoring programs across the areas of enrollment, matching, and engagement.

Some key findings from the report:

  • Open mentoring programs have an enrollment benchmark of 88 percent.
  • Ongoing mentoring programs have the highest match rates of any mentoring formats.
  • Match rates for hybrid matching and admin matching programs are 18 percentage points higher than self-matching programs
  • Integrating an existing mentoring program with communication platforms such as Slack or Microsoft Teams increased engagement by 32 percent.

“Mentoring is one of the most valuable ways you can spend time developing your network,” writes executive coach and change consultant Sara Sheehan in “The Power of the Company You Keep.” “You invest in other teammates’ growth and seek mentors to guide you. It creates a circle of support that generates positive forward momentum that yields business benefits. Make sure you are always considering who your mentors are and if you need to be in touch with others who will help you grow. In parallel, consider who you are mentoring personally and if there is anyone else you could support in growth. If others see you are actively involved in both sides of the mentoring process, they will be more likely to support growth and learning opportunities.”

Best Practices columnist Neal Goodman has mentored and coached leaders for more than 50 years. His column this month features best practices and danger zones to keep in mind when developing mentoring programs or relationships, including those focused on diversity and inclusion. He points to the benefits of mentoring circles, “a peer-to-peer mentoring format sponsored by the organization that enables employees who share common interests or learning objectives to develop and learn together as a group.” In the process, Goodman writes, “participants become more engaged with employees across the organization.” He concludes that the “magic of mentoring circles comes from the serendipitous relationships, connections, and desire to help one another over many years.”

Now that’s the way to plant the seeds for success!

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.