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Coaching and Mentoring

Coaching and mentoring involve powerful relationships among people. We view coaching as an interpersonal working relationship in which an experienced person works with another person (or group) to strengthen or build their skills by sharing his or her expertise with them. We view mentoring as a two-way creative partnership, in which a more experienced person guides, works closely with, and learns from a less-experienced partner. Coaching and mentoring share some important attributes. They are personal, intensive, and sustained. They involve engagement and creative effort, and they seek to add meaning and value to the work in which the participants are engaged. They also involve relationships in which there is mutual respect and caring between or among the participants. Those relationships draw upon shared content expertise or interests, planning and communication skills, and process tools. However, successful coaching and mentoring experiences can also benefit from knowledge and application of style preferences. You can use VIEW as a tool to establish and maintain the effectiveness of these relationships. When coaching or mentoring, be aware that the participants may view and approach problems, processes, and decisions in different ways. Don't make assumptions about peoples' competence or motivation with discussing your strengths and needs. Don't assume that common content interests or expertise also means that you can assume common style preferences. People can be novices — or experts — in very different ways.

Examples

Some examples of ways to use VIEW in coaching and mentoring include:

  • A staff member was responsible for coaching several interns as they worked on a variety of tasks in their work group. Although the staff member was a professional with recognized expertise and experience in the field, he recognized that his way of handling many of the tasks was not "the only way" to approach those tasks effectively and appropriately. The staff member and all the interns completed VIEW at the beginning of the internship experience and discussed the results. When they prepared to deal with a new task, they held a group meeting in which they generated options about how to approach the task. Then, they considered ways that various responses might reflect style differences, and developed procedures for working on the tasks in style-appropriate ways.

  • A senior scientist served as a mentor for a junior staff member in a research laboratory. The senior scientist, with a strong external and explorer preference, approached her research agenda by seeking novel ways to redefine problems, often in ways that challenged many established principles and procedures in the field. The protégé, who was much more oriented toward an internal and developer preference, initially found the mentor inspiring but incomprehensible. The protégé had difficulty following or accepting the mentor's "leaps" of analysis, and often found her explanations and instructions unclear, rambling, and difficult to follow. The scientist feared that the protégé lacked enthusiasm and had difficulty "seeing the big picture." After completing VIEW and discussing their results, the scientists discovered ways to communicate more effectively and to work together more productively.

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