Effective Coaching and Mentoring in Organisations


Coaching and mentoring are often used to improve the performance of leaders in an organization. These are two different areas of qualified executive support that differ significantly. Coaching in organizations is justified because coaches help leaders cope with complex situations, maintain fairness, and achieve their goals. Coaches have specific professional knowledge and skills such as active listening (Passmore, 2010). The correct use of these skills within the various coaching models will ensure that the coach gets the job done effectively. It is noteworthy that the management of coaching in an organization has several stages; it involves overcoming barriers and adequate supervision. This paper aims to discuss effective mentoring and coaching within an organizational context, and the knowledge and skills required.

Defining Coaching and Mentoring

Coaching and mentoring are similar concepts, but they have some fundamental differences. Passmore (2010) provides several definitions of coaching, including “unlocking a person’s potential for maximum performance” and assisting in self-learning, “a professional partnership between a qualified coach and an individual or team to achieve goal-based results,” and “the art of contributing unlocking the potential of people to achieve meaningful, important goals “(p. 10). At the same time, mentoring is a process where a mentor “has experience in a specific field and shares specific knowledge, acting as an advisor, advisor, guide, mentor or teacher” (Passmore, 2010, p. 21). Similarities between coaching and mentoring include a focus on client success, and leadership, and the guiding role of the coach or mentor.

The first main difference is that the mentor shares their own experience and gives advice, while the coach is based solely on the client’s experience. The second difference is that the mentor provides more directive commands, while the coach supports and influences the client unobtrusively by helping to build faith and find the right solutions. At the same time, Passmore (2010) highlights the characteristics of coaching: it is future-oriented; conducted under the guidance of a coach; aims to improve productivity; coaching is not mentoring. Mentor shares knowledge and a coach helps clients to reveal their knowledge and skills.

Coaching in Organisational Context

The organizational structure has changed coaching, as it was previously conducted one-on-one and did not require reporting to other organization representatives. Current trends indicate that coaching involves team participation, monitoring, and performance evaluation by the sponsor and the organization. On the one hand, this is a favorable trend since coaching has gone beyond the personal training format for managers and has begun to be applied to all company employees (Passmore, 2010). On the other hand, attracting more participants led to developing an organizational framework for coaching sessions. Both coaches and clients have to comply with the new rules implied by the framework.

In other words, organizations that run leadership and training programs introduce formal processes to measure coaching effectiveness, turning it into a strategic initiative by creating consistent working methods. Organizations that choose to conduct coaching sessions emphasize purchasing, managing, and evaluating coaching services. Coaching trainers are now learning to align with the student’s needs and the manager, sponsor, and organization. Issues to be addressed through the coaching sessions within the organizational framework include “creating a business case for sessions (system profiling, core issues, gaining commitment); ensuring focus (keep the drive, identify stakeholders, clarify business drivers); creation of alignment (set goals, and criteria for compliance); conclusion of contracts (goals, agreements, obligations); success (trust, feedback, evaluation)” (Passmore, 2010, p. 30). Therefore, there are three main factors of how organizational context affects coaching: the need to expand the audience of clients; agreeing on the goals of the client and the organization; reporting and performance evaluation. The organizational framework also implies working within a defined format and achieving strategic goals.

Business Rationale for Using Coaching

There is a straightforward rationale behind the introduction of coaching sessions for the organization’s employees. According to scholars, the productivity of managers who participated in the session increases significantly; the return on investment is estimated at 100%-500% (Passmore, 2010). Moreover, some scholars say that a 22:1 ratio for the organization can be achieved if increased employee retention is considered (Passmore, 2010). Both individuals and organizations benefit from the cooperation with coach trainers. Individuals acquire the new skills they need to achieve their job goals and experience greater job satisfaction and career prospects. Organizations receive a significant shift in achieving tactical and strategic goals and improving employee retention. This positive impact can be assessed by the quarterly job satisfaction reports by HRs concerning individuals; the balanced scorecard method can be used to measure the impact on organizations.

Potential Barriers to Coaching

There can be external and internal barriers to the consultation that can impede the smooth flow of the process. For example, a coach and a client may experience difficulties due to inappropriate communication environments. The best option may be a quiet room without strangers, where the coach and client conduct sessions. Sessions outdoors – in the garden, park, or on the terrace are also an excellent strategy to overcome this barrier (Starr, 2008). Individuals and coaches may also experience barriers of fatigue or feeling unwell or being in an unacceptable emotional state, which must be avoided or overcome with sympathy and empathy.

Then, coaches may apply flawed techniques that become a barrier to the organization that hired the coach. These are the trends of talking too much, adopting too much control over the direction of the conversation, playing ‘fix-it, strategizing during communication, looking for the ‘amazing moment,’ wanting to look good in the dialogue, needing to be ‘right,’ assuming previous knowledge is relevant, ego barriers, and should be avoided (Starr, 2008). Other obstacles for organizations may include issues with hiring or managing, scoring, and reporting sessions. The HR department can handle the obstacles using the strategy of reporting, and evaluation of sessions. Moreover, a coach can use the assistance of a supervisor who will help them remain effective and avoid mistakes.

Coaching Skills, Knowledge, and Behaviour

A coach must have specific knowledge, skills, and behavior to provide professional services. First, the coach must understand and apply different models, depending on the client’s situation and personality. For example, the GROW model is widely used in coaching and consists of four key concepts and questions: “Goal: What do you want? Reality: What is happening now? Options: What could you do? Will: What will you do?” (Passmore, 2010, p. 18). Then, the coach must adhere to the ‘not to do’ behavior rules described in the previous paragraph.

For example, the coach should not be overly controlling and allow the conversation to flow naturally. They should also not look for problems in the client’s stories but enable them to speak out and explain what bothers the client explicitly. The coach must also possess communication skills that allow for a dialogue typical for coach sessions (Passmore, 2010). For example, summarizing is a convenient and polite way to interrupt a client if the subject or direction of the conversation needs to be changed. Summarizing implies a brief repetition of what the client said to summarize the main point. Knowledge of the models will ensure the appropriate strategy is used during the sessions (Passmore, 2010). At the same time, the right behavior can be checked against the ‘not to do’ list.

Communication Skills

An effective coach needs to have well-developed communication skills to conduct the sessions. These skills include listening, questioning, clarifying, summarizing, and reflecting. Listening skill has five elements of “active listening, listening and asking for more, giving advice, giving our own experience, waiting for our turn to speak” (Passmore, 2010, p. 19). Questioning includes using standard questions that are part of communication techniques, such as those presented in the GROW model. The coach can also intertwine open and closed questions and guide the dialogue towards insight without losing sight of the client’s goal. Clarifying includes the elements of “repeating back in different words, summarizing, and reflecting the exact words” (Passmore, 2010, p. 20). Then, summarizing means shortening what has been said as a polite way of interrupting and providing clarity. Finally, reflecting on a client’s exact words helps build trust by demonstrating that they are being heard and taken seriously.

Responsibilities of the Coach

The Coach has specific responsibility for the quality of the session, which is defined by traditional ethical standards. Passmore (2010) notes that the ethical principles that guide coaches in practice are consistent with psychotherapists’ guiding principles. In other words, coaches should rely on biomedical ethics and ethics in counseling and psychotherapy in their sessions. Interestingly, the ethical guidelines for psychotherapists include a list of areas of responsibility and rules that must be followed by coaches (Bhola & Raguram, 2016). These are beneficence or the provision of services that are consistent with the interests and goals of another person and contribute to their well-being; non-malfeasance is a commitment not to harm the client or anyone else; fidelity is a commitment to responsibility (Passmore, 2010). The coach should also encourage customer autonomy, which is one of the main goals. Observance of fairness implies ethical, fair, equitable, and non-judgmental treatment. Finally, the coach must have the virtue of self-interest, which means paying attention to the coach’s competence, self-knowledge, and professional endeavours.

Coaching Model

Many ready-made models are used to communicate with clients with different personal characteristics and in various types of situations. The GROW coaching model is the most widely used because of its versatility. GROW stands for Goal, Reality, Options, and Will (Passmore, 2010). The model implies that the client is not subject to a formalistic linear approach, and the coaching is fluid and artistic. This model includes four steps coaching topic, goal, reality, and options. In the first step, after establishing rapport, the coach asks about the client’s goals; as a rule, clients do not have clear goals, and the coach must discover, together with the client, not general but actual purposes.

The second step is setting a goal for the session to walk away with a concrete result. The third step is the most prolonged phase, during which the coach tries to “shine a light of awareness” on the client’s reality (Passmore, 2010, p. 85). Mindfulness is often achieved by asking open-ended questions to delve deeper into the essence of things (Starr, 2008). The fourth step is to identify options for action after the client has described his reality in detail to the coach. Considering the information above, the GROW model promptly and unobtrusively covers all session stages and allows achieving results under the client’s request. Therefore, it should be used, with some personal creative approach by the coach to ensure mindfulness and awareness during the sessions.

Reflective Practice and Supervision

Peer supervision sessions are conducted with a coach and another experienced trainer; during these sessions, the trainers reflect on the coach’s work. Therefore, peer supervision sessions have two goals – supporting and developing the coach and providing protection for the client. Coaching peer supervision includes mentoring the coach for professional development and providing an external perspective for reflective practice (Passmore, 2010). The last element is the most important as it creates additional space for reflection. During peer supervision, coaches learn and improve their professional skills. A rigorous oversight process helps the coach connect theory to real-time client experiences.

Therefore, attending seminars is not enough to conduct professional sessions, while peer supervision allows one to hear professional feedback about work both during the individual and group sessions. Supervision is vital for individual and group work, especially given the complexity of group work due to the need to balance the desires and feelings of different participants. In individual therapy, supervision allows the coach to look at the client’s reality and dialogue from a new perspective. Remarkably, scientists identify three main functions of supervision, which may differ according to the opinions of scientists (Passmore, 2010). These are developmental, formative, educational, resourcing, restorative, supportive, qualitative, normative, and managerial functions. Supervision is likely to be important given the versatility of a coach’s work.

Characteristics of Effective Contracting

Contracting is an important element implemented at the beginning of the collaboration between the coach, the client, and the sponsor. In addition to legal and financial formalities, contracting implies the designation of the parties’ goals, roles, and accountability; in the contract, each term is negotiated. Therefore, contracting helps establish a psychological contract by defining goals, results, and expectations for achieving goals. At the same time, the conclusion of the contract allows for creating a space for communication between all parties.

Before the contracting session, the coach calls the client and explains the purpose of the contract and who will be present at the session. A draft contract can be sent to the client, and the draft may describe “company goals, business goals, development areas, desired outcomes, previous assessments” (Passmore, 2010, p. 38). Interestingly, the conclusion of a contract is spelt out in most professional codes of psychotherapeutic practice. The Association for Coaching (AC), which ensures that coaching standards are maintained, presents requirements for a contract to include business development goals and distinguishes between the executive, business, individual, and team coaching.

Managing the Coaching Process in an Organisation

Managing the coaching process in an organization begins with the development of the organisational coaching framework. This framework should feature building the business case, ensuring focus, creating alignment, contracting, and delivering success (Passover, 2010). Building the business case includes systemic profiling, meeting key challenges, and gaining commitment. Key challenges may consist of keeping employees motivated, moving to transformational culture, finding ways to build innovation, reducing stress, and engaging people. Ensuring focus means that coaches should maintain the drive, identify stakeholders, and clarify business drivers. At the same time, creating alignment means aligning the business needs, the coach’s needs, and individual or team needs. At this stage, the coach also establishes aims and matching criteria. Then, in the contracting phase, goals and outcomes, agreements, and commitments are set. Finally, at the stage of delivering success, the coach has to provide solicit feedback, build confidence, and measure the created value of the sessions.


Thus, effective mentoring and coaching practices within the organization were discussed. Providing coaching services is different from mentoring, as the coach does not share his own experience but helps the client gain confidence and achieve goals. Metaphorically, the coach helps the client learn to drive while the mentor shares the driving experience. Respect for the client’s independence is an integral part of the coach’s work, as is the constant adherence to the set goals. Communication during the sessions takes place in a dialogue, which is the primary key to understanding the client’s tasks, purposes, reality, and capabilities. The coach uses active listening skills by asking open and closed guiding questions to work with the client to find out the truth. The wrong environment, the client’s poor health, or the inappropriate use of the coach’s techniques can create barriers to work that can be overcome through sympathy and empathy and correcting the coach’s mistakes.

The coach may need supervision to enable him to combine theoretical and practical knowledge. Another critical task of supervision is to discuss the coach’s work with a more experienced mentor to ensure the client is insured from mistakes and failures. The conclusion of the contract is part of the formation of a psychological contract between the coach, client, and sponsor and takes place during the first session. During the sessions, the coach behaves ethically, realizing the client’s tasks and contributing to his growth and development.


Bhola, P., & Raguram, A. (Eds.). (2016). Ethical issues in counseling and psychotherapy practice: Walking the line. Springer.

Passmore, J. (2010). Excellence in coaching. Kogan Page Limited.

Starr, J. (2008). The coaching manual: The definitive guide to the process, principles, and skills of personal coaching. Pearson Education.

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