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Coaching and mentoring as a tool for improving performance

Many might think that coaching and mentoring techniques are the latest in a long line of fads adopted by businesses trying to get ahead of the game. However, a significant number of law firms are buying into the idea and it’s proving hugely popular at the assistant/associate level. Lena Baillie, an HR consultant at Longbridge International, examines the firms that are using coaching and mentoring to improve their working culture.

1 November 2002

Current trends

Coaching and mentoring are the current buzz words within performance management and a recent study by the Institute for Employment Studies found that 69 per cent of organisations currently employ external executive coaches with a further ten per cent expecting to within the next three to five years. The study also found that 94 per cent of managers expect to coach their own staff.

What is coaching and mentoring and how do the two differ?

Coaching is defined as: “Helping professional people to reflect upon their work in a frank and vigorous way and to establish new patterns of behaviour as a consequence”, (Sanger et al, 2000).

Fundamentally, it is often short-term, paid-for, goal-specific, action and performance oriented. In contrast, mentoring can be described as a process that supports and encourages learning to happen, thus it looks to long-term improvements in performance and behaviour.

Coaching and mentori...

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