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Mentoring and Coaching as a development strategy Essay

Executive Summary

There are many benefits in adapting mentoring and coaching programs to an organisation in order to develop human capital. However, there are areas where caution must be exorcized in order to avoid adverse outcomes. This report provides examples from Coca Cola Foods and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Corporation of their mentoring and coaching strategies and how they execute these in line with business goals to best benefit the organisation.


It is imperative that an organisation holds a sustainable competitive advantage in order to be a successful business and maintain a profit. Competitive advantages can be ascertained through the strategic use of human capital to achieve high performing organisations. This can be referred to as a Resource Based View approach to organisational strategy in human resource management terms (Kraaijenbrink, 2011). Mentoring and coaching is low cost and highly effective way of developing human capital (Veale, 1996).

Defining Mentoring and Coaching

Though there are overlaps, mentoring and coaching are two separate organisational development techniques, both approaches require different processes and different goals. A coach’s purpose is to enhance an individual’s performance by increasing their competence and the likelihood of success (Raymond & Winkler, 2013). They do this through providing objectives, techniques, practise and feedback. Relationship building is the primary focus when it comes to mentoring, therefore the selection process is critical to the success of this tool (Veale, 1996). A mentor is someone who has much experience and significant knowledge behind how things work in that industry. The relationship is of a formal nature and structured around the developmental needs of the “mentee”. In contrast to mentoring, coaching is not predominately concerned with the relationship between the parties but rather the agreement that the coaching is of value.


Mentoring has been shown to be particularly useful for woman and minorities is linked to mobility and career advancement (Veale, 1996). It is a low cost, highly effective learning process that can be used a marketing point to attract prospective employees. Major advantages of a successful mentoring program include; increased job satisfaction, performance, commitment and cross-functional knowledge, it is also highly effective in integrating a mentee into an organisations culture (Raymond & Winkler, 2013).

Coaching advantages lay within its processes and outcomes. It is way of facilitating continual learning and increasing accountability with a goal of producing highly skilled, more productive employees (Veale, 1996). It is key to producing an atmosphere which enhances persistent and purposeful learning through goal setting and response.


Mentoring and coaching provide many potential benefits for an organisation, however it is unwise to assume perfect results every time. In dealing with human capital, there comes human factor issues resulting from communicational and emotional influences. It is important to map any potential issues that may arise in order to prevent them. Potential concerns in regards to mentoring may include: Mentees may developing unrealistic expectations about their potential. Mentee may not take responsibility for their own development The mentor relationship may fuel work gossip at higher levels.

Confidentiality breaches

Coaching disadvantages lay in employee preference, some prefer more indirect criticism as to protect their feelings and others consider correction as punishment (Veale, 1996). Also coaching may lose its personal approach when in group environment and therefore produce a negative outcomes, as many people learn in different ways. Lastly, feedback from coaches is purely objective and may be incorrect or biased based on style preference rather than results.

Critical Success Factors

It is important that coaching is perceived as a positive process, as particular styles and perceptions of coaching may undermine the intention. A Setting must be established of confidence and respect that is problem focused and change orientated. Communication is key when it comes to mentor and coaching programs (Veale, 1996).

As the mentor relationship critical to its success, mentor selection process must be strictly adhered to. A good mentor; is a productive worker, successful in their work, appreciates working for the organisation, is comfortable with listening and being asked questions, and providing advice and perspective (Veale, 1996). Additionally, it is important that participation of both parties is voluntary and that a detailed policy and procedure must be drawn up and adhered to. It must include format for contracting, confidentiality requirement, feedback guidelines and a formal time limit for the programme. It is also imperative that both parties are from different departments to avoid ‘direct reporting’ or conflicts of interest.

Mentoring and Coaching Methods Examples

The following provides example of how specific organisations get the most from mentor and coaching strategies. Coca Cola Foods:
Coca cola foods have advanced their human resource strategy by investing resources in to formal programs that promote mentoring relationships (Veale, 1996). In application of Resource Based View, their aim is to strengthen the link between developmental focus and business strategy and to better match personal and organizational needs using a variety of development tools. They use a combination of both Mentor and coaching systems within the organisation to achieve this goal.

The following Formal Mentoring Process is followed by many organisations, particularly Coca Cola Foods.

1. Mentee identified

Eligible applicants are sort in multiple ways, depending on job level, department and individual’s characteristics. Once target group is defined, mentees can be identified by volunteering, being nominated or competing through testing and application.

2. Developmental needs identified

Individual development plan is prepared though defining individual’s developmental needs. The mentee and their boss can disclose areas they feel need work and skill deficiencies can be revealed through assessment.

3. Potential mentors identified

A pool of potential mentors is generated through assessed general ability and willingness to handle the role. Mentors may enter this process by volunteering, recruited by senior managers or chosen by mentee.

4. Mentor is matched to mentee

The mentees developmental needs are matched against a mentor that holds the ability to provide training or guidance in those areas.

5. Orientation for mentors and mentees

This orientation occurs before the initial relationship commences and covers types of activities, time obligations, time and budget support, reporting requirements, and the responsibility of the mentee for their development.

6. Contracting

An agreement is drawn up that includes a development plan, confidentiality condition, consultation frequency, length of relationship, mentoring activities and role of mentor

7. Periodic meetings

To execute the plan through coaching and feedback sessions.

8. Periodic reports

To evaluate the success of the mentoring programme. Periodic status reports should completed by both mentor and mentee. This step may be skipped depending on the level of formality in the programme.

9. Conclusion

Completion of a mentoring relationship is contingent on accomplishing the goals set out in the initial agreement.

10. Evaluation and follow-up

At this stage both parties are interviewed in regards to the value of the process, timing and other related concerns that could affect the process.

Coca Cola Foods also uses mentoring techniques which they define very broadly in to 5 different styles. This gives coaches flexibility to adapt to different situations and needs. Many of these styles overlap but ‘the objective is not theoretical precision, but usefulness’.

1. Modelling i.e. ‘do as I do’

Often people need to see a thing done in order to understand and do it themselves. A coach should enact the skills and values they are trying to instil to aid learning process.

2. Instructing i.e. ‘do as I tell you’

This particular style of coaching requires the coach to teach the coachee a skill. This mirrors the “directing” coaching type in Hersey-Blanchard model as it does not require particular input or reflection from the coachee (Mind Tools, 2014). Coca cola recommend a five step process to instructing.

1. Plan; Provide a vision of what is expected and an over view of the goal and process to reach that outcome.

2. Tell; verbally highlight specific tasks to be completed.
3. Show; Provide example i.e. modelling.
4. Do; encourage the coachee try the tasks at hand.
5. Correct; Provide feedback on their actions and adjust if necessary.

3. Enhancing performance i.e. ‘do this better’
It is assumed when using this model that the person has prior understanding of what is required of them but needs improvement. This style resembles coaching identified in the Situational Leadership Model. Steps include:

1. Explain the performance and why it is important. This provides justification for enhanced effort. 2. Ask for input. Taking in to account the coachee’s ideas on barriers or possible improvement strategies, provides opportunity for the coachee to feel in control of their learning process and help the coach discover misunderstandings along the way. 3. Provide feedback and improvement ideas. Coach knows best. 4. Summarise with a plan. This builds a sense of team effort. 5. Offer support. Interest and involvement of coach helps coachee feel their contributions count. 4. Problem solving i.e. ‘figure it out this way’

The coach helps the coachee learn and use a method of problem solving by providing a format as well as leading the process. Steps:

1. Involve participants; coach asks participants for specific description of problem including all stakeholders influence, then summarises 2. Funnel problem; Coach looks at a variety of causes, what factors lead to this and the meaning behind it. A force field analysis is a good way of coming to a decision on funnelling the issue. Force field analysis involves analysing forces for and against a particular change and defines reasoning behind the outcome (Mind Tools, 2014). 3. Build plan; suggest strategies, people, action steps and schedule dates. 5. Inspiration i.e. ‘ you can do it’

Coach inspires mentee using personal connection. A sports coach cheering from the sideline or Nike’s slogan “just do it” would be good modern day examples of this. Another fine example would be Barrack Obama’s 2008 victory speech, “yes we can” inspiring hope and resilience in American citizens, following decades of a country divided by war and race, quoting Abraham Lincoln “We are not enemies but friends”

Coffee Bean and Tea leaf:

Coffee and Tea Leaf provide good example of the effectivity of coaching as a development technique. In 2004 this company had seen rapid growth; planning to introduce 100 new stores to their chain, they were placed in the position requiring over 100 new general managers (Blanchard & Dressler, 2006). Their aim was to invest in training in order to retain and grow effective management and develop new ones. The decision was made to participate in Blanchard’s Situational Leadership IIR course.

Training began with an impact map that clarified a line of site between situational leadership, course learning and individual coaching, critical leader tasks and outcomes. These impact maps were revisited throughout the training to ensure application of training and help provide links between learning, personal accountability and company goals. Knowledge content was then provided electronically to the staff over a 2 week period, after which participants gathered for knowledge application. This step required ten telephone facilitated, hour-long coaching sessions over the period of 20 weeks focussing on application in relation to Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf business goals.

The course then went through an evaluation process to determine whether the training was effective. It was found that the initiative had a very positive business impact with less than 3% disagreeing with the proposition that they found the training valuable. 67% believed the this training would develop someone for a more responsible, challenging leadership position and 64% believed the course would help a marginal performing team member become a high performing team member.


In comparing Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf’s mentor and coaching strategy with that of Coca Cola Foods, I believe that Coca Cola foods strategy provides more advantages. Coca Cola food’s adapts both mentoring and coaching strategies in a variety of ways to adapt to each individuals learning preference, whereas Coffee Bean does not.

A main criticism of Coffee Beans’ strategy is that coaching seasons were not required to be face to face. It is important that a face to face bond is formed between the coach and coachee in order to avoid miss communication often associated with body language. This technique could be considered quite impersonal and lead to adverse effects.

It was found that around 35% disagreed that the course would help a marginal performing team member become a high performing team member or develop someone for a more responsible, challenging leadership position, which I believe is a significant amount (Blanchard & Dressler, 2006). This number could be improved by requiring face to face communication with the coach during the 20 week application period.


Generally, coaching is an informal relationship between a boss and their employee with the mutual objective of increased performance. Mentoring is a formal relationship, separate from the organisation with a broader scoped objective dependant on the mentee’s needs. Mentors may also use coaching types to help mentee achieve their goal. Both processes are key to building high performance organisations through human capital and therefore establishing competitive advantage within a market. Examples from Coca Cola Foods and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf provide insight into coaching and mentoring development strategies at play, specifically describing the connections between employee developments and achieving business goals.


Blanchard, S., & Dressler, D. (2006). Coaching and Traing at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. In R. Brinkerhoff, Telling Training’s Story (pp. 199-217). San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler. Kraaijenbrink, J. (2011). The Oxford Handbook of Human Capital. In A. Burton-Jones, & J. C. Spender, Human Capital in the Resource-Based View. Mind Tools. (2014). Force Field Analysis. Retrieved from Mond Tools: Essential Skills for an excellent career: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTED_06.htm Mind Tools. (2014). The Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory. Retrieved from
Mind Tools: Essential skills for an excelent career: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_44.htm Raymond, N. A., & Winkler, C. (2013). In Training & Development: Learning for Sustainable Management 2e. Australia: Mc Graw Hill Education. Veale, D. J. (1996). Mentoring and coaching as part of a human reasource development strategy: an example at coca-cola Foods. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 16-20.

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