Is this a job for Coaching, Training, or Mentoring?
Getting better every day is something that many people discuss, however they fail in execution. The greatest athletes in the world rely on coaches every day – do you?
It is one thing to aspire to grow, aspire to improve, it is another thing to take action. Action starts with a single step, it requires movement. How do you know which direction to go? How do you know if you are taking the right actions?
“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” – Abraham Maslow
A coach could be the critical tool in your toolset, but like most projects, you need to assess the situation and determine the best tool. It has been said that when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Other tools for consideration include training and mentoring, but how do you determine which is the best fit for the situation?
When I think about coaching, I think about finding someone who can help me make the subtle adjustments necessary to improve the things I do well today. This could be as simple as foot position on a bike pedal, or as detailed as body language and voice inflection when speaking in front of a crowd. A coach is there to help you see the things that you cannot see yourself. Sure, you can look in the mirror, but that is one perspective. The mission of the coach, from my perspective, is to accelerate growth and performance. This happens by improving technique. In order to make these improvements and recommendations, the coach must be there.
What if it is too soon for a Coach?
Sometimes, you are too early in your career progression or the skill development progression to leverage the value of a great coach. You may be just starting out with a new skill or in a new role. If this is the case, training may be a better fit. Training provides a structured opportunity to learn a new skill or capability. The training should be focused on the reason behind the skill. It can be designed to introduce you to the topic, create an environment to put concepts into practice, and test retention. Training can work really well 1:1 or 1:many. Coaching, on the other hand, is better in a 1:1 environment. Even with large groups or teams, the specific coaching you receive is personal.
What about a Mentor?
Mentoring is much more relationship-driven than coaching or training. Sure, a coach should have a solid presence, however, it is not critical that you get along with your coach or the trainer. The relationship you build with your mentor is critical. This relationship is mutual, it evolves over time. The mentor is there to help inspire thought, provide guidance, and share their personal and direct experience.
This is the first post of a series of posts focused on the differences between coaching, training, and mentoring. Share your comments and personal experience with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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