Let’s get this out of the way first: Coaching and Mentoring are unregulated industries. Anyone can say they’re a life coach, executive coach, or any other kind of coach or mentor. There are professional bodies like ICF and EMCC who support professional standards, codes of ethics and have a fairly clear picture of what Coaching in particular is. I’m a member of both, but that’s neither here nor there – the fact remains that seeking coaching for yourself, an employee or a team is very much a question of finding the right person, who’s got a similar enough idea of what is needed that you’re happy to work together.
So, rather than having a “What is Coaching and Mentoring?” page where I try to capture the dry academic version of things, I have this page, where I set out what approach I take.
What is Dave’s definition of Coaching?
Coaching is a support structure for having a conversation with yourself. What that conversation is about is up to you. Some examples might be:
- There’s a change you’d like to make, but aren’t sure how to get started, or have been avoiding doing it.
- You’re feeling a bit directionless; you’re not sure what you want or how to get it.
- You’re dealing with a big change and trying to reconcile it with your values and what you want.
- You want to keep yourself honest about the broader development goals you already have.
The list is endless.
What is Mentoring?
Mentoring is a more knowledge-based relationship, where ideally a person experienced in a certain area works with someone less experienced in that area. It’s often said that the mentoring relationship only really ends once the mentee becomes a mentor themselves. In reality, these tend to be a shorter engagement than that, for getting a new employee up to speed and integrated into a new role, for example.
In my coaching practice, I use a fairly loose hybrid coaching and mentoring model. What this means is that as well as curating a conversation where we talk about and make progress on what you’re seeking coaching on, I also am able to give specific advice on how to approach certain situations, tools and methods to use in your work as a leader or engineer, and generally introduce a mentoring mindset.
This is especially true if you happen to work in engineering leadership and in reliability or SRE/DevOps – my background features many years of practical leadership experience in this space.