Coaching and mentoring can be conducted creatively using different coaching and mentoring styles. Yet, this does not mean that the coach or mentor can mess up the processes for both activities. The coaching and mentoring process remains to be structured and procedural. The styles to be used in these programs depend on the coach and mentor. The important thing to consider when adapting a certain style is that it should be suited and easily grasped by the learner.
Coaches and mentors must keep in mind that people have various learning styles. Some of them are visual learners and get a good grasp of knowledge and information on the things they see. Others are dependent on what they hear, so they are auditory learners. Given this, coaches should design their own coaching styles and this is also applicable in mentoring.
There are no definite coaching and mentoring styles. This article will present the generally accepted styles based on theory and application.
Impact of Coaching and Mentoring Styles
A coach and mentor must make an important choice about what kind of approach to use when conducting coaching and mentoring sessions. These styles and approaches are necessary in identifying the following:
• How to deliver the teaching of skills and strategies
• How to present the materials, tools and resources, as well as the drills and activities
• How to condition the mindset of the learners
• How to implement the coaching or mentoring process in a smooth manner
• How to effectively conduct coaching and mentoring sessions
Primary Coaching Styles
Coaching styles may be varied and unique depending on the selected approach of the coach. These coaching styles are classified into three basic approaches: directive, cooperative and casual.
Directive Coaching Style
In this kind of coaching approach, the coach is considered the “master” of the session. As such, the giving of instructions, decision-making, action plans, and many other things are primarily done by the coach. The learner simply follows what the coach instructs and adheres to the solution provided. Even the feedback is given in a manner of giving instructions, telling the trainee what to do and what not to do. In this style, the structure of the coaching process is inflexible. Another term for directive coaching is autocratic style.
Cooperative Coaching Style
As the term itself shows, this coaching style involves the participation of the individuals in coaching. The coach presents the coaching materials and activities amenable to the learner and injects a part of the problem solving. Decision-making is shared but under the guidance of the coach. The structure of coaching is flexible meaning that the strategies and techniques will be designed according to the needs and level of grasp of the trainee. In this style, the learning process is shared between the coach and the trainee.
Casual Coaching Style
Casual coaching style is more like an informal approach of coaching, as there are no goals set and there is no clear designation of roles and responsibilities. The learner makes the decisions. The communication style is more of listening. The coaching process lacks a good structure; the coach can go casual when dealing with the learner.
Two Basic Elements of a Mentoring Style
The approaches that can be used in mentoring may not be as defined as that of coaching because mentoring is about building a relationship between the mentor and the mentee. Unless the organization decides to create a formal mentoring program, the mentors may need to lean toward certain mentoring styles.
When selecting a specific approach in mentoring, two fundamental elements must be taken into consideration by the mentors. The mentoring sessions have to strike balance and flexibility. Balance in mentoring is demonstrated by addressing the personal aspect and professional needs of the mentee. Moreover, the mentor can also incorporate a “task-oriented” and a “relationship-oriented” approach in mentoring.
Flexibility in mentoring is the ability of the mentor to adjust and modify oneself to natural responses depending on the situation. A mentoring style that can hardly be changed or modified to suit the needs of the mentee is considered as “rigid” and is not a productive mentoring approach.