How to use coaching and mentoring to further your career

Coaching is the new buzz word that everyone is talking about in business, but what is coaching and what is the difference between coaching and mentoring, two terms which seem to be used interchangeably and how can you use them to further your career?

Mentoring is an ongoing process with a peer or manager at work who can ‘teach you the ropes’ so you can learn from their experiences. A business coach is someone who works with you on short-term projects to clarify choices in your career or personal life and support you making those changes. It is a partnership where the coach takes the role of an impartial sounding board and you bring the knowledge of your life and career and the ability to reflect on the subjects chosen. As coaches, we fundamentally believe that everyone has the ability to work on their dilemmas and no one is better positioned to do so than yourself. We are merely here to encourage that process to take place.

So when would you work with a coach? Typical scenarios include stress and time management, wanting to have more influence, feeling stuck in a rut, lacking confidence, feeling undervalued or having issues with a manager or colleague in terms of communication. When working with a coach you have to be prepared to open up about your working and private life, as one naturally affects the other and sometimes you need to work with patterns that emerge more than one place to solve a dilemma.

Coaching sessions typically consist of an exploratory session where you find out if you have the right coach. It is vital that the partnership works in order to achieve results. Coaching is hard work emotionally and you must commit to it and book the time ahead. 6 sessions of 1 1/2 hours are typical of a coaching project but it depends entirely on the needs of the individual. Remember that professional coaches will have trained with a recognisable institution and be a member of the Association for Coaching. Don’t be afraid to ask to see their credentials.