“What is the Right Time to Start Coaching and Mentoring Managers”

What is the Right Time to Start Coaching and Mentoring Managers?
By Pamela McElvane

Everyone is concerned about ensuring that they receive every opportunity available to develop within their organizations. Is there a specific time when one should have the opportunity to engage in coaching and mentoring early in their career? Absolutely. However it’s critical to understand the primary difference between training and coaching versus mentoring and development. Training and coaching are critical for success in the manager’s current role, while mentoring and development are critical for success in their future role.

Our research clearly show that 98% of our 50 Outfront companies understand that training and coaching should occur early in a manager’s career – starting in the on-boarding process. However, only 21% of our companies provide immediate coaching to junior managers, while 35% provide immediate mentoring to their senior management. It would appear that companies assume that, the more senior you are, the greater your demonstrated track record and, thus, the greater your value, contributions and potential.

Is that fair? Well, actually, it is. It’s necessary for managers to receive training and coaching early to ensure success in their current role. Once the ability to perform has been demonstrated, then it is possible to recognize potential. Ensuring that potential will prevent lost time, which equates to lost talent. Coaching should be designed to support developing managers to identify potential derailers and/or barriers as well as how to handle them. Coaching should be a manager’s access to knowledge that will allow them to develop best strategies to grow within the corporate culture; to understand all of the available resources and how to manage up effectively.

Once managers have proven that they are ready for the next level, it is appropriate for companies to seek the best type of mentoring for managers. Our 2009?? research shows that only 55% of the companies have formal mentoring programs. This means the others depend on informal networks and relationships. With diversity councils being so strong and influential within many companies, this has become a key strategy to expose junior managers to executives.

Let me briefly speak candidly to the senior manager opportunities for mentoring and sponsoring. As mentioned earlier, 35% of our companies immediately engage their senior level executives in mentoring. But let us be clear; if the opportunities for exposure and stretch assignments aren’t available, this means very little. Typically, this level receives peer-to-peer mentoring; and C-suite ownership for sponsoring. We know people of color really need to have intentional strategies to ensure they have access to future key assignments and exposure to areas such as board leadership and development.

With all of this said, regardless of the level of management you are in, managers must take responsibility for ensuring that their development is on track. If you are a manager, don’t be afraid to have the conversations with your leadership to understand how the coaching and mentoring process is managed within your organization. Executives must take time to STOP and consider their next assignments and have the specific conversation on what that assignment with their leadership looks like.

Pamela McElvane is CEO & Publisher of Diversity MBA Media.

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