I must admit to feeling just a bit excited when I read recently that people are crying out for coaching and mentoring (although I did wince a bit at some of the language used in the article :D). This is a significant shift from seeing coaching and mentoring as something that used to be about performance management, or as something that seemed to be mainly reserved for executives, to a way of supporting all employees in their professional learning and development.
The article I read (Survey Says: Your Employees Want Coaching and Mentoring), unpacked the results from an October 2017 survey of over 2000 learners conducted by Wainwright Research, and highlights some key points, after first suggesting that “many who talk about learning in the workplace tend to think of the generations as significantly different in their preferences. Wainhouse’s findings show this is not the case. Across all the generations, learners prefer a range….” (Pagano, 2018).
Some of the key results were:
- Coaching and mentoring appeals most to the oldest (50+ years old) and youngest learners (21-25 years old) out of all age groups in the workplace.
- Young workers find informal conversation with a subject matter expert to be extremely useful. As workers age, this becomes less of a top priority. However, by late career the trend reverses again, and the 50+ group shows greater interest in informal conversation with SMEs than those in mid-career.
Interesting stuff. The implications for organisations are many, and, beyond the practical, the findings maybe offer a window into a different way of thinking about learning as something we do as a ‘whole person’ as opposed to ‘a role’. Consider, for instance, the difference between content delivered to you to teach you something (no guarantee you want, need, or are going to learn it), compared with a series of conversations that help you identify your aspirations, and figure out how to move toward them (aspirations that you ‘own’, with an underlying reason to be accountable to yourself). Absolutely, sometimes you will need to access that content. However, coaching and mentoring will support you to figure out what your reason for doing so is – one that aligns with your values, and has direct and immediate relevance for you.
Maybe where I differ most from the author of the article is that, even for employees in the mid-stage of their career, the combination of coaching and other professional development opportunities can be potent. What are your thoughts?
Image: Reaching out. CC ( BY NC ND) licensed Flickr image by Steve Corey: https://flic.kr/p/rttGBk