Is there a difference between a mentor and a coach?

It is undeniable that the hype around coaching and mentoring is real: people hear a lot about both things, especially under today’s fast-paced and stressful circumstances. However, as the saying says, plenty of people have managed to go further that they thought they could just because someone else firmly believed they could. Although the terminology, and the words «mentoring» and «coaching», are seemingly—and often used—interchangeable, reality dictates otherwise; however, one thing is certain: both mentors and coaches can get to be highly meaningful and worthwhile resources. But, what is the difference between these two? And, moreover, how can people know which one they really need?

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Suzzanne Uhland has already mentioned valuable things about mentoring and different approaches to finding the right one irrespective of the stage; nonetheless, it is wise to first determine the distinction between mentors and coaches. Normally, or at least how tradition has previously shown, mentors were commonly assigned within a corporate organization to help its employees get acquainted with their roles. Today, and as of the emergence of the fourth industrial revolution and the digital era, mentors have shifted towards a more holistic approach and act as mere advisers regardless of whether they receive any kind of compensation or not.

Today’s most common connotation around mentors is that they embody successful persons who are always willing to share what they have learned and the wisdom they have acquired throughout their lives to provide accurate and useful insights to entrepreneurs and pretty much anyone willing to listen. One key aspect, nonetheless, is that they function differently: they always stay in a reactive-expecting position, helping people once they come across any sort of challenge. Thus, and even though a mentor may not have enough expertise in the mentee’s field, they are quite proficient at navigating the corporate world and the business field.

And that is an overall view of the mentoring end. Coaches, on the other hand, often have enough expertise in a particular field, and most of the times such expertise matches the field of the people they are helping. In general, coaches possess several certifications and strong and solid management skills. In the corporate world, coaches play a vital role in supporting different CEOs or venture capitalists as well as entrepreneurs. Their main function is to help them foresee any possible challenge in the upcoming future and come up with effective ideas on how to proceed and tackle them as they arise. Their nature, all in all, is somewhat proactive: coaches definitely enjoy participating and coming up with ideas that may help their customers and their coachees.

The intricacies of the relationship between a mentor and a mentee are rather open-ended: it can last for decades, whereas regular and traditional coaching happens for one specific reason, and once the issue has been addressed or solved, the relationship normally ends.

Which seems like the wisest choice?

After considering the aforementioned aspects in regard to the different intricacies of both relationships, people should already know which type of relationship suits them best and which would serve a much greater purpose; nonetheless, it is wise to consider the following aspects as well:

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Consider where are you now

Perhaps, one of the greatest factors, if not the most important, is the stage of the journey. An entrepreneurship enthusiast seeking to thrive in her or his business often needs a mentor who can provide guidance as to how to overcome basic challenges and how to tackle the issues that often arise when establishing a business. At this point, a mentor seems to be quite a good choice given the fact that they can provide a much wider spectrum of advice and connections that might come in handy for the business. As businesses grow, they tend to get more uncanny, and issues become more nuanced than in early stages. Once the business has reached this point, working alongside a coach seems a much better idea, especially if the coach also happens to work in the same industry; thus, the coachee will get a much better perspective towards the future.

Name your needs

Irrespective of the stage of the journey, if a particular individual has already identified a specific need, the wisest choice leans towards working alongside a coach. 

For example, if a startup or an already-established company is experiencing corporate development difficulties, which in turn prevent the company from scaling its business, a coach with expertise in such field will certainly be much better; however, if the same individual has not identified and named specific needs, and all she or he needs is proper guidance, a mentor would serve a much better purpose.

 

 

 

 

How To Boost Your Career By Mentoring

Mentoring is a practice that is becoming more commonplace today in companies that are successful and also care about the development and growth of their employees in both personal and professional fields. Here at Suzzanne Uhland’s Blog, we have explored the many reasons mentorships benefit the individuals involved in the relationship directly and how the company is indirectly greatly enhanced as well by providing the space, guidance, and motivation to harness mentoring as a tool towards evolution.

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In your own career progression, we are sure you can recall the times when you had to learn about a process or find a way to deal with a situation and realized you were faced with learning opportunities. After that, you became aware when these situations repeated themselves and were able to act accordingly based on your own experiences or if you were lucky enough, according to the teachings you received from a coach or mentor you had. Lastly, there is a time in which you are faced with being able to pass your knowledge down to others.

Teachings are in itself a very rewarding experience, but are there other things that I can expect to receive when investing my time and energy as a mentor? Are there other ways to boost my career by participating as an active member in a mentoring program and lending my time towards helping mentees grow personally and professionally?

Teaching is learning

Teaching is a powerful tool that allows you truly gauge your understanding of how things work. People have a tendency to believe that they understand concepts better than they really do. Through teaching, you actually become aware of your understanding as you try to instruct others on procedures or ideas. When you show someone how to do something, you understand details that you may have overlooked before, and thus you gain a deeper understanding yourself and learn from your own instructions as a result.

Building bridges

Having a great relationship with colleagues and coworkers is something that greatly aids the progression of your career. This type of internal networking allows you to have a closer relationship with the people you share your work with and that way you can ensure that people are collaborating and looking out of each other. Mentoring is an excellent way to strengthen those bonds and to create new ones with incoming personnel that has just arrived at the company or who have started their progression through the ranks.

Seeing your worth

Mentoring helps you evaluate your own career advancement and gain perspective in how much you have accomplished. When you are a mentor, you can see how far you have gotten by sharing this time with people who is just getting started in their own profession. Being able to see how you can contribute to the advancement of others and how influential those contributions become is truly uplifting.

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Leadership development

As a mentor, you have to guide and oversee people from different backgrounds and with diverse sets of skills, something that will truly test the potential of your leadership and management skills. Everything about being a leader from the way you deal with adversity in the manner you communicate with others will be tested when you become a mentor. This type of practice will only make you a much more capable manager.

Learning new skills

Everyone you meet can teach you something new. In a mentor-mentee relationship, that statement rings as true as ever because both individuals are given a great opportunity to exchange ideas and learn from each other in a real-world environment. Do not underestimate how much you can receive from your mentees even when you are the one who is supposed to be mentoring because in most cases both of those terms are interchangeable.

The organization

When you help others become more competitive and advance in their careers, you are at the same time strengthening the organization and giving back to the profession. As a leader, you know that the accomplishment of the mission is just as important as the welfare of the members of the company when you mentor you are helping address both of these factors.

Talent retention

Talented individuals should be retained, and a company must do everything within their power for these people to not just stay in the organization, but to never feel like they have a reason to leave. Mentoring is one of the ways you can contribute to the creation of an environment that makes workers feel appreciated and valued by the company.

Seeing the bigger picture

Mentoring gives you the opportunity to gain perspective from different levels of the organization. Sometimes your own privilege as a senior employee blinds you from seeing the issues that other members must face. This insight is unique and extremely valuable and being in a mentoring relationship allows you to have direct access to that particular stream of information.

 

The Best 3 Approaches To Finding The Right Mentor For You

A good mentoring relationship is something that many successful professionals give credit to when asked about how they got where they are. The benefits of mentorships are clear, measurable and evident to anyone who decides to even examine the matter and talk to those who have personally been involved in one of these great professional partnerships. Great mentors are people who have decided to sacrifice some of their time and effort in order to help someone else excel and attempt to reach their full potential.

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That aspect in itself is already commendable, but it is worth mentioning as we have said numerous times here at Suzzanne Uhland’s blog, that the proper mentoring relationship is a two-way street in which both parties are rewarded from the interaction in different manners. 

A mentee doesn’t let all the responsibility resting on their mentor’s shoulder, on the contrary, one could argue that mentees should be even more involved in helping guide the discussion and steer the course of the partnership, while at the same time finding ways to give back to their mentor by also sharing their knowledge and providing feedback that is extremely valuable for the mentor to assess their own interpersonal and leadership skills. 

People with the experience will tell you that there are few things as rewarding as seeing that your efforts are paying off when you are helping someone else get ahead in life, but at the same time you feel that the relationship nourishes you and helps you understand how to be better at what you do and how to make the most of everything you have experienced so far.

One of the most challenging parts of mentoring is actually finding the right mentor, or better yet, knowing what to look for in a mentor in order to choose the best person for you and also someone who can benefit just as much as you will during the partnership. In this article, we want to talk about 3 aspects you should broadly consider to make the right decision about your mentoring relationship and where it should lead you.

Thinking about short-term

Where do you want to be a year from now? This is one of the most typical questions people get asked at interviews, but there is a reason for that. Short-term goals are easily attainable benchmarks that can help you measure success in a short amount of time and also be motivated by seeing your own advancement. Having a mentor that is a reflection of where you want to be in the short-term is an excellent way to adjust your sights and start marching in the right direction. This type of mentor is great for helping take on small tasks and projects at your level because their experience is very similar to yours and they understand where you are since they were there not that long ago. These mentors can also help you gain insight on the company and aid you in finding ways to make your transition smoother as you try to get used to the new environment. This relationship can be quite informal, and you can take charge on getting started by discussing it over a cup of coffee as you socialize and get to know other people in the company.  

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Looking further ahead

While the previous mentor can help you think about how to best carry yourself on a daily basis inside the company, this second mentor is a person who can help you project to where you want to be in five years. This person can help with advice on how to advance in your field and within the company and how to accomplish your short-term goals but will your sights further ahead. Mid-level managers are exceptional individuals to look at when trying to find a “five-year-ahead” mentor since they occupy the positions where you may see yourself in the future while you are still part of the company and they already have some experience under their belt to share with you. Engaging into one of these relationships is a bit more formal and should be planned ahead. Treat it as if it were an interview and keep in mind that the person may not want to engage due to time constraints and other possible factors.

A Career Mentor

This advisor is someone who can help you answer the tough questions about where you want to go with your career and the ultimate goals you want to accomplish. A career mentor may work inside the company, or it could also be someone who has been successful in your field and you admire professionally. They take time to find, and you may have more than one through the years, but the one thing they will have in common is that they will become important to what you do and their opinion will matter on the decisions you make. A mentoring relationship is something to be cherished and cared for if you want to make the most out of it.

Some good tips to manage a mentoring relationship

We have already seen many definitions for mentoring and we have seen many types of programs and approaches to mentoring. We don’t have to go again at those definitions. Instead, this time we will focus on the relationship mentee and mentors have and how this relation can be managed.

It is not only about a contract or having some kind of agreement but also about understanding the goals and the objectives that the mentors have for their mentees and what mentees expect from their mentors.

Suzzanne Uhland has compiled some very useful tips that give the readers some pointers on what are the terms that every mentoring relationship should have so mentors, mentees, and companies that use such programs understand and get the most out of their programs.  

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The first meeting

This is comparable to the first impression and the saying “there is only one chance to make a first impression”. Here the mentor and the mentee should meet each other and be very open about all the topics and about their own backgrounds and experiences. The idea with this first encounter is to know each other and to build that much-needed trust that will be the keystone for everything during the mentoring relationship. Some of the topics that are recommended to be discussed by mentor and mentee are the objectives and expectations of the relationship; what will the responsibilities be and what will the time commitments be; a place and schedule for the meetings; how confidential information will be treated and what will the limits be to conversations and topics;  which obstacles could arise and how to deal with them; and the terms to end the relationship.

The objectives and expectations of the relationship

Here the mentee´s goals are of most importance. The mentor should treat this information with a lot of commitment because here is where he or she can understand where the relationship will go. The goals should be specific, attainable and measurable. Going down to reality, the mentees sometimes don’t know where they are going exactly or have goals that are either too crazy or too short. Here the mentor can push the mentee to get out of his or her comfort zone and make the mentee think outside of the box and look for bigger and more ambitious goals. After this, the mentor should take a good look and see if he or she can really help the mentee on reaching such goals. This will prevent one of the most common reasons that mentoring programs fail which is a mismatch of mentor and mentee. Then, if there is a match, the mentor and mentee should discuss how these goals are going to be met.

A topic that mentors should avoid is talking about how expectations could fail or how their personalities could clash in the future of the relationship.  If there is chemistry the relationship should start and make changes as they go because if there is empathy on both sides any problem can be solved and learned from.

The limits

It may sound similar to a couple who negotiates times and hours for their own space, but it is absolutely necessary. The goals and objectives should be set and the boundaries for them should be discussed as well. Mentor and mentee have to be very clear on what limits would the relationship have because often people become too friendly or they use more time for the relationship than it is expected affecting other activities for the mentor or the mentee. Other problem that could arise are the questions on how to handle a difficult member of the board or the company; concerns about the strategic approach that the company has; and personal issues that are not the mentor´s job to handle. In many firms, a different mentor that has nothing to do with the mentee or is not within his group is assigned to the mentee in order to deal with personal issues and to not lose the ability to have a full and open disclosure.  Some of the common limits that firms set for a mentor – mentee relationship are: that the mentor gets involved in issues that require dispute resolution; using the relationship for direct career advancement, and talking about money or having an economic relationship.

Confidentiality and conflicts

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This stage is delicate and should be managed correctly by the mentor. Of course, a lot of information that is confidential will come up in the conversations but there has to be an agreement on which is useful for the relationship and which information is just part of the conversation itself and not part of the program. If the lawyers are from different firms, for example, they should know and understand the Rules of Professional Conduct and abide by them.

Be sure to also read this post about the advantages of mentoring in the law profession.

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The Advantages Of Mentoring In The Law Profession

Mentoring is a practice that has always been the preferred method of transferring knowledge since the beginning of times. Before big universities and all the new ways people can access education and training, mentoring was the only way a trade skill could be learned, and there was a reason for that, as there is no better teacher than experience itself.

A mentoring relationship is a bond between two individuals who trust each other and who are being mutually benefited from the companionship, the hard-work, the experience and the knowledge they each bring to the table with the hopes of helping the other one become more successful in their own chose field.

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Here in Suzzanne Uhland’s blog, we have talked about the benefits of mentorships, the way new technologies are shaping this practice and how many famous individuals have been personally gained a lot from being involved with a mentor and now they recommend it for anyone who is seeking advancement as an individual in their personal and professional life.

Today we want to talk about mentoring in the law profession. We know that mentorships can give those involved a serious advantage no matter which field of professional development they belong to, and this also rings true when it comes to professions in law, although there are certain challenges and situations that are unique to attorneys and the type of environments they work in.

The legacy that has been handed down since the time of the Greek philosophers continues today being experienced by many people in the legal world. It is a reality that from the very beginnings and throughout the career of a young attorney, they are faced with opportunities to engage in mentoring relationships. This happens in universities, during internships and in many law firms to which they may become associated with. This is clear evidence that there is an appreciation for the practice in pretty much all levels of the profession and that lawyers truly understand how this sort of partnerships positively impacts their trade.

Lawyer to lawyer mentoring is a practice that has been adopted by many organizations and rightly so since almost anyone who is in the legal profession will tell you that mentoring is a critical component to an attorney’s success. Mentors are powerful tools that can help new lawyers navigate all the hurdles that are characteristic of the world of law, no matter the place where they exercise their trade. A mentor who is part of the organization where they new lawyer works, can not only help them with their own perspectives, experiences knowledge that differs from their own but also help them settle into the company by showing them how to quickly adapt to the way things are usually done. When a senior member takes another lawyer under their wing, this also gives a level of “sponsorship” to their work that goes along way when it comes to getting out there and getting started in this new world where people truly respect and admire this type of patronage.

It is important to remember that mentoring relationships are not simply a one-sided partnership where senior members of the organization who are usually very busy individuals, should volunteer their time out of the kindness of their heart to help other up-and-comers gain knowledge and eventually replace them. Mentorships also work the other way around in helping the mentors broaden their own network and learn skills that these younger people bring from their own life experiences or that have learned in an academic environment that is much more modern than the ones they experienced years ago when they attended law school.

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There is also a case being made for diversity in the workplace and in the law profession in general. Partnering with members of different social groups, race, gender, background and even nationality can great help a more experienced lawyer understand important insights in perspective in a world where diversity is becoming such a valued asset. According to a publication by By Stephanie A. Scharf and Roberta D. Liebenberg at the American Bar Association, women in the profession continue to be greatly underrepresented today, where only about 16% of equity partners in large firms are women. These numbers become even scarcer if we take into account minorities.  

While many recommendations have been made about closing the gender gap at different levels all across the profession, it is worth mentioning that mentorship programs could be a great asset to use in order to address this crisis. Successful senior lawyers of both genders could use the opportunity to take interest into the work of younger female lawyers and other members of groups that are underrepresented, and thus make a difference while at the same time gaining invaluable knowledge and perspective of a different set of experiences and outlooks on our world and the way law continues to change and to accommodate diversity.

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Mentoring According To Some Of The Most Famous Leaders In The World

One of the most important characteristics prosperous entrepreneurs and famous business leaders share in common is the understanding that success is not the product of a one-man show, but instead is the result of multiple efforts coming from many individuals who have a common goal and a shared drive to see those efforts realized.

Someone once said that mentoring relationships are often not mentioned by some entrepreneurs when they talk about their methods and their road to success because they believe this to be a sign of weakness. Nothing could be further from the truth, as having a mentor shows that you have a willingness to learn and that you understand that you are not yourself a finished product, but instead an individual who has yet much to learn and is eager to do something about it. That type of mindset shows great strength and a keen sense of responsibility, something that is commendable and that sets the right example for others to follow.

Famous mentoring relationships are common today as many of these names that have become a staple, talk about their mentors with fondness and give much credit to these partnerships by counting them amongst one of the most important building blocks of their own success.

Richard Branson – Virgin

Richard Branson’s appreciation for mentors come from his early age and the lessons learned from his eccentric uncle Jim. Branson talks about how he saw in his uncle this ability to understand things that others simply mocked and weren’t able to fully comprehend.

These teachings are something that has always characterized Virgin’s CEO as a man who takes risks and that looks at the world from a different perspective. It is important to note that some of those risks aren’t always successful, but the ability to look past the preconceived notions of others is a great virtue that one should nurture.

When it comes to business he also gives a lot of credit to Sir Freddie Laker, especially during his times of struggle while trying to get Virgin Atlantic off the ground. Branson knows that having the courage to admit that a mentor can help you is one of the trademarks of a great leader.

Mary Barra – General Motors

Mary Barra is another outstanding leader who has been successful against all odds, especially during a time when the automotive industry was struggling like never before. She believes in the strength of mentorship as a multifaceted strategy that should address several aspects of the individual. Not only worrying about the business side, but also the personal growth of both people involved in the partnership. Barra talks about the importance of building a network of mentors while having in mind your mid-term and long-term goals in order to map out strategies to get there. She also talks about not having to always look up to seek your sources of strength but to also look at your peers and your employees as prospective allies in your path to growth.

Mark Zuckerberg  – Facebook

More than 1 billion people are currently active on Facebook. When you talk about success, Facebook’s co-founder and CEO is one of the people you will most definitely think about. Mark Zuckerberg created a company that definitely changed the world and he attributes a lot of his success to one of the men who inspired him with his mentorship, that man was Steve Jobs. Jobs talked to him about the importance of building a team above anything else, and how it was so crucial to instill in that team a sense of accountability and focus on the mission at hand. It is important to understand that sometimes your mission needs to go beyond what it is that your company creates. He taught him about building something bigger than himself and being able to truly touch people’s lives.

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Bill Gates – Microsoft

One of the most famous mentoring relationships in the world is probably that of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Both Buffet and Gates are in the list of the world’s wealthiest men, and they have both built their empires from very humble beginnings. Gates has mentioned in numerous interviews that he great appreciates the way Warren Buffett helped him to learn to think in long-term and how setbacks are simply part of the journey to accomplishing bigger and better things. He also talks about the man’s ability to break down complex situations into simple concepts that can be easily analyzed and explained.

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Bill Gates is not the only one who feels fortunate of having Buffet as his mentor. Warren Buffett himself admires the way Bill Gates handles wealth and how he feels that he has an intrinsic responsibility with the world and with using his position of privilege to change the world for the better.

For more great articles check out Suzzanne Uhland’s blog today.

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The Reasons Why Mentorship Programs Fail

Mentoring programs are becoming more and more popular as organizations continue to see the great advantages they can bring to their individual members and their company integrity as a whole. Mentoring relationships help junior employees find guidance, direction and a practical way to direct their efforts towards the advancement of their professional career and also their personal endeavors. Senior members can also find great benefits from being part of a mentoring program as they can hone their own leadership skills, learn new abilities and widen their network while making a real difference in someone else’s life. Companies see a lower turnover and a higher index of job satisfaction amongst employees when they introduce mentoring programs into the organization. So why is it that something that is so positive for all parties involved sometimes fails? What are the most common mistakes organizations make when establishing their mentorship programs? That is the topic we will look in depth today here, in Suzzanne Uhland’s blog.

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One of the most common mistakes made at the time of creating a mentoring program can happen right from the start. This mistake is a lack of a balance in structure. Remember in our other article when we talked about the necessary steps to take when creating a mentoring program? We mentioned that right from the beginning, you must set clear goals and try planning exactly what you want to accomplish with the initiative. With that being said, you start to create a structure that will make those goals become attainable and that structure has to be based on the type of mentors and mentees that you are going to have as participants of the program. You have to understand that different individuals have diverse preferences and communication styles. Sometimes, the person in charge of the program fails to take that into consideration and their structure ends up lacking in flexibility or sometimes it even becomes so relax that it could be considered inexistent. The trick is to reach a balance in the structure that helps those who need to maintain their discipline and that doesn’t get in the way of those who are more organized and are able to better manage their time.

Another big mistake to keep in mind is poor training given to mentors and mentees. The problem is that some organizations feel that all they have to do is give people the opportunity to team up and they stop there. That is not the way you go about making sure that your mentorships are successful because you are abandoning your people to their own devices and failing them as an organization. Sometimes there are external factors like geographical constraints that make it difficult to gather your people and have them attend training sessions, but there are other ways of getting it done using the latest technologies. In order to keep your program alive, you must nurture its most crucial aspect and that is the human component.

Poor matching is perhaps one of the main reasons why mentoring relationships fail. Matching criteria must go hand-to-hand with the purpose of the program. The problem is that sometimes that purpose is so vague that people fail to understand what they are looking for in a partner to start a mentoring relationship. You cannot blame your participants if you left them to choose blindly the person they are going to work with.

If the purpose of your program is clear, then you can identify possible candidates and start matching them before the initiative even begins. It is true that in most cases you want partnerships to be formed in a very organic way, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some planned component to it. Like we have said a few times before, it’s all about balance and finding the perfect dose of structure and freedom to choose.

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The last factor we are going to explore is the lack of clear benchmarks for success. This happens very often with companies that are hasty to start a mentoring program to meet some expectations but fail to realize the true responsibilities that come along with it and ignore the fact that the road to success is made out of many small stations along the way. Benchmarks are small goals that help track success and that motivate participants because it allows them to clearly map their improvement. Success must be measured and gauged so it can be repeated and so effective practices can be studied in order to implement them in other areas of the program.

This last part because an issue because sometimes organizations rush towards an end goal but forget that when it comes to mentoring it isn’t so clearly cut. What works for some may not be so evident for others, and while something may be seen like the norm in a company, it can be new territory to others.