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Mentoring as Part of Management Functions

4240 words (17 pages) Business Assignment

4th Nov 2020 Business Assignment Reference this


People management functions are increasingly being carried out by line managers, Henri Fayol (1949) lists the five main functions of managers as planning, organising, co-ordinating, commanding and controlling (Gold, Thorpe and Mumford, 2010, p.4). Leaders and managers titles and responsibilities can vary from one organisation to another. Clegg, Kornberger and Pitsis (2011, p.126) state “leadership is the process of directing, controlling, motivating and inspiring staff towards the realisation of stated organisational goals” and similarly Marchington and Wilkinson (2012, p.300) state “leadership is variously seen as linked to change, transformation, culture, vision, and looking to the future, whereas management is seen as concerned with internal organisational issues such as efficiency, planning, procedures, and keeping an eye on the bottom line,” both see leaders and managers as having different qualities and functions. Whereas, Rees and French (2016, p.79) argue that to see leaders and managers as different can sometimes be detrimental, in order to fulfil their roles as managers’ they need to cope with change and leaders need to bring order and consistency. This essay will argue that coaching and mentoring are highly effective in developing people management skills, some of these being performance management, change management, managing employee relations and identifying ways in which the managers contribution can be improved.

Human Resources (HR) use a number of techniques to support line managers in their people management roles such as coaching and mentoring. Iszatt-White and Saunders (2014, p.288-289) state “coaching is a process and a relationship within which the person being coached decides what their course of action will be and devises their own solution. In this sense, coaching is seen as a non-directive form of cognitive development, where the coach facilitates the coached to discover their own solutions.”  This definition is similar to that found in Morgan and Rochford (2017, p2) who also see coaching as a joint endeavour between coach and coachee, working methodically to achieve mutually agreed goals and thereby improve performance and cultivate continuing self-directed progression.

Coaching and mentoring can be seen as complex issues as people often get the meanings of the two confused. Clegg, Kornberger and Pitsis (2011, p.146) state “mentoring is the process of passing on the job expertise, skills, and knowledge in order to develop a protégé.” According to Marchington and Wilkinson, (2012, p.300) mentoring takes a more holistic approach over a longer period of time and can help the mentee with ongoing career development, whereas Parsloe, Leedham and Newell (2017, p.227) state coaching is more short term and focused on a specific task. Both these definitions of mentoring are essentially in agreement. In contrast Connor and Pakora (2017, p.9) “take the view that there is common ground, expressed as underlying principles, which underpins both coaching and mentoring. In practice, the terms are often used alongside each other or interchangeably.”

Jenkins (2013, p.145) argues that the difficulty in defining the differences between coaching and mentoring is to some extent caused by the overlap in skills. Coaches may exhibit mentoring behaviour in stimulator style by encouraging coachees to develop their own wisdom or by formulating questions from their own experience, that result in the coachee developing their own insights and conclusions. Mentors have a lot of additional responsibilities, for example, act as a role model, counsellor, advisor, sounding board and assist the coachee to acquire wider networks. It is evident that there are many definitions of coaching and mentoring and now we will turn to an analysis of its effectiveness.

The acquisition of skills, knowledge and behaviours through extensive experience is a fundamental aspect of becoming a leader. According to Iszatt-White and Saunders (2014, p.289-290) leaders can be developed by the use of coaching and mentoring. Coaching can help with career development, performance management, employee relations and learning and development. Mentoring is typically used when an employee starts in a new role and a more experienced person within the organisation will act as their mentor.

The next key aspect is people management skills. Performance management helps achieve the efficient management of one or more people leading to a higher level of performance within the organisation. This results in mutual comprehension in regards to what needs to be accomplished and the way forward to lead and develop employees aiming for higher performance (Rees and French, 2016, p.254). According to Gold, Thorpe and Mumford (2010, p.86) performance management can be important in explaining and achieving an organisation’s objectives. To do this it is necessary to ensure that each employee’s deficiencies and lack of skills are identified to align with the objectives of the organisation. The lack of skills can be identified by the use of performance appraisals and 360-degreee feedback. Pousa and Mathieu (2014, p.76) highlight that studies have shown the provision of coaching to managers is correlated with enhanced staff performance.

Connor and Pakora (2017, p.21) state that coaching in performance appraisals would be very effective in increasing a line managers ability to identify the areas of development required for individuals, this can be in the form of the coach helping the line manager to become more self-aware and using their interpersonal skills to encourage and influence the coachee in devising their own applicable solutions.

One way in which coaching is highly effective in developing people management skills for performance management is communication. Schraeder and Jordan (2011, p.5) observe that managers can benefit from coaching in order to improve their communication skills, this will help with improving relationships between the manager and team member. This is an important skill for managers as it can assist them to manage their employees’ performance through channels such as performance appraisals, providing formal and informal constructive feedback, learning and development and goal setting.

The GROW model is a powerful model used widely for performance management coaching in the workplace, with the main focus being on performance and results and is particularly useful for improving communication skills. The model can support coaches in improving and developing people management skills, Grant and Hartley (2013, p.111) state research shows that goal setting is essential in helping bring about positive change. The TGROW model developed by Downey (2003) is a variation of the GROW model as illustrated in the diagram below, the topic is discussed before setting the goal, the goal needs to be specific in order for progress and results to be measured (Connor and Pokora, 2017, p.115). These can be set as SMART objectives, which should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.  Ascertain the current reality of the situation, explore all options before making a decision, and the will and desire to action the changes required. However, (Gold, Thorpe and Mumford, 2016, p.241) argue that goal setting could lead towards taking action and coming up with solutions, without taking into consideration obstacles, unmanageable issues, emotions and existing worries.  The GROW model is a highly efficient coaching technique for the ‘hands-off’ style of coaching and has a successful track record (Parsloe, Leedham and Newell, 2017, p.169). The coach would ask the relevant questions and would encourage the coachee to reflect and come up with a solution on how to improve their skills.

Figure 1: The GROW Model (Passmore, 2010, p.84)

Garvey Stokes and Megginson (2018, p.198) argue that effective coaching can instil in coachees the practice of goal setting and individuals who received coaching were more inclined to set goals and in turn saw an improvement in their 360-degree feedback rating. In contrastOrdóñez et al. (2009) argue that goal setting can have negative associations such as a reduction in motivation, a misalignment of risk preferences, deterioration of an organisations culture, increase in unethical behaviour and a low priority to areas not included in the goal setting. Thus, goal setting should not be viewed as entirely positive but a powerful medication that needs to be taken as instructed under mindful supervision.  

Coaching is an effective and valuable tool for improving line managers ability in providing feedback for performance management. If the feedback is given in the form of coaching it can become a two-way process, giving the coachee the feeling of ownership and agency. Good feedback needs to be informative, targeted and regular, not just generic to avoid offence or upset. Where feedback is factual and to the point, this should not cause any resentment. Again, the GROW model would be effective in this scenario, using SMART objectives to measure performance, as Marchington and Wilkinson (2012, p.239) state feedback is a critical element for performance reviews, but often is the most challenging. Tolhurst (2010, p.125-126)argues that the use of feedback can be a powerful tool in performance management, used correctly it can progress team members, help with development, improve performance and be a positive learning experience. Inappropriate feedback can cause confusion and make people feel wary, resulting in a loss of confidence and demotivation which ultimately has a negative effect on performance.

Coaching is also a very effective way of preparing line managers to deal with conflict, this being a key skill required for performance management. As conflict will always arise at work, people management will help to deal and resolve these situations. Managers must acquire the ability to negotiate and delegate with employees by using particular styles to collaborate and compromise alongside proper verbal and nonverbal clues. Nonverbal clues need to be used with care as they can impart a lot of important information (Tripathy, 2018, p.226).

Connor and Pakora (2017, p.193) suggest that the CAN model for conflict, assertiveness and negotiation is an extremely effective model for coaching and will help a line manager develop their skills in negotiation and assertiveness, both required for dealing with conflict resolution.

Figure 2: The CAN Model (Connor and Pokora, 2012, p.209)

As seen in the table below from CIPD (2015) the highest result for how employees responded to conflict was by having an informal discussion with a manager or HR. This is where it can be argued that the CAN coaching model is an effective tool to assist line managers, in that it can help build on existing knowledge and focus on developing the interpersonal skills, in order to manage conflict and deal with difficult conversations. Coaching will help the line manager to be more empathetic, assertive and become more skilful at negotiating. Feedback can be provided by the coach to the line manager on areas of improvement. The disadvantage is that in real life things don’t always go according to plan. Role play sessions used in coaching do not take into account all the variables that could occur in real life situations, this is where it is important to reflect and learn from all situations where the outcome has not been optimal (Connor and Pokora, 2017, p.193).

Figure 3: How employees responded to conflict (%) (CIPD, 2015, p.20)

Reflection can help with learning in both coaching and mentoring, Gibb’s reflective cycle below shows that the action we take may be positive or perhaps there could have been improvements. Upon reflection and looking back at the action taken, a line manager should take this opportunity to see how he feels about the outcome. Parsloe, Leedham and Newell (2017, p.261) state evaluation of the event will help with learning and make any necessary changes highlighted by the reflective process, which will improve performance in the future.

Figure 4: Gibbs’s reflective cycle (1988) (Husebø, O'Regan and Nestel, 2015)

With line managers now taking responsibility for key elements of human resource management (HRM), coaching is an effective strategy of assisting them to manage performance. Both, Connor and Pakora (2017) and Gold, Thorpe and Mumford (2010) identify that coaching is effective in improving the line managers soft skills. Schraeder and Jordan (2011) and Tolhurst (2010)share similar views in that communication is an important skill required for performance engagement and helps with providing constructive feedback, coaching will enable line managers to improve their techniques in providing feedback. The general consensus is that the GROW model is a widely used and effective tool for coaching line managers in improving performance management. Garvey, Stokes and Megginson (2018) and Grant and Hartley (2013) specify that goal setting is important in improving performance and positive change, whereas Ordóñez et al. (2009) disagree and criticise that goal setting can be negative, indeed he goes so far as to say that it can lead to employees behaving in an unethical manner. The success of coaching in performance management can be measured by seeing a reduction in employee turnover, higher levels of employee engagement and feedback from employee surveys.

To conclude based on the literature reviewed, coaching line managers is a very effective way to improve their performance management skills, using both the GROW and CAN coaching models.Coaching is a short-term solution and focuses on the specific areas that require development, which is more effective for managing performance. It can be argued that mentoring being a long-term process would not be suitable for performance management and the mentor may not have the relevant experience or knowledge to improve the skill base required.

Change management is another people management skill and this essay will consider the effectiveness of developing line managers skills during organisational change, specifically in coaching and mentoring. Rees and French (2016, p.104-106) state that change management is where management systematically intervene by using employees to accomplish the required future state with specific performance results aligned with the strategies of the organisation. For an organisation, change can be planned or unplanned and can include soft factors and hard elements. The hard elements are tasks which are clearly understood and quantifiable. Soft factors are not so easy to quantify and include culture and employee engagement. They also observe change can be driven by management, resistance controlled and eliminated.

Mentoring can be a highly effective strategy to help line mangers deal with the issues that come with change management. Bailey et al. (2018, p.315) explain where there is constant change, the willingness of staff to accept change can determine whether the process succeeds or fails. People can resist change for various reasons, such as cognitive behaviour or emotion, this can leave people unprepared or unwilling to change, fearing the unknown and feeling they are powerless.

Clutterbuck (2014, p.10) argues that the main point about successful mentoring is that it allows mentors to change direction in response to the learner’s needs after monitoring them, as illustrated in the mentoring model ‘Helping to Learn’ diagram below. He also states that the integrated approach to help employees learn and develop, can be utilised using various methods of learning. The four approaches are traditional coaching, networking, guardianship and counselling.

Figure 5: Four Basic Styles of Helping to Learn (Clutterbuck, 2014, p. 10)

This model is an effective technique used to mentor line managers in how to deal with change management successfully. A line manager will have the most influence in bringing about change management, therefore it is important that they use the mentoring modelling effectively, following each part of the model as it applies to each part of change management. The mentor will have the skills to motivate and provide encouragement during the stages of the actual change. For change to happen and be successful, interpersonal skills are also required so that the mentee is able to reach their full potential. Clutterbuck (2014, p.45) points out that during change management, the line manager will have to use varying approaches of the ‘Helping to Learn’ model. They will need to be nurturing and influencing during the introduction of the change, but then directive.

Clutterbuck (2014, p.22;41) states in order to be an effective and inspiring role model or mentor it is critical for them to have high self-awareness; this will allow them to control their own conduct in the helping relationship and to be empathetic as required. He also argues, having enough visible role models demonstrating a high calibre of mentoring, will show others within the company what good mentoring is and this can act as another informal asset or facility for mentors. Saeed et al. (2014, p. 222) argue that transformational leadership can be more successful at times of greater change and uncertainty, as they will tend to be more pro-active whilst seeking novel solutions and less likely to carry on as before, making them ideal mentors during change management. However, it has been criticised for being idealistic and based on a very particular kind of company situation where subordinates challenge the status quo and expect to take part in the decision-making. Choi (2006, quoted in Stragalas, 2010, p.36-37) that charismatic leaders can demonstrate behaviours that others will want to copy, which could make them effective role mentors.

US studies show, mentoring can help with the retention of employees; where workers are being mentored the number drops from 35% to 16% for large organisations within the next 12 months, this can be particularly crucial during change management (Clutterbuck, 2014, p.29). This highlights that mentoring can be useful in staff retention at times of change due to the stress of uncertainty.

Jenkins (2013) suggests that mentoring is increasingly being regarded as a core skill for leaders and can be particularly effective during change management. The drawback with mentoring in change management can be that individuals must be willing to change and if the change does not appear to make any sense and they don’t see the benefits in their role or work environment then it can be difficult to inspire workers. Connor and Pokora (2012) argue that there is overwhelming evidence that mentoring assists individuals with learning and adapting to change. Therefore, mentoring could prepare people and make them ready in preparation for the changes to come.

In conclusion, mentoring can be a highly effective strategy for change management to be successful. The four basic styles of the mentoring model ‘Helping to Learn’ are an extremely useful tool for the line manager to follow dependent on the different stages of change and how individuals will react to organisational change. Change management is a long-term process and therefore mentoring will be effective and beneficial to achieve a successful outcome. Building relationships during this process is fundamental and coaching as a short-term strategy would not be appropriate in this case.


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