Have you thought about finding a mentor or coach but weren’t sure what it would involve?
At All Things IC, our Communication Consultants provide mentoring support to in-house communicators, supporting them with a specific aspect of their career development.
We feel privileged when we’re invited to work 1-2-1 with comms professionals to share our experiences and insights.
I’ve invested in coaches throughout my career and found having an experienced business coach invaluable during lockdown, to help me make decisions. Having confidential conversations with someone not as close to the business as I am was incredibly useful.
All Things IC Consultant Dan Holden has also experienced coaching for himself and last year he saw the potential to support internal communicators through coaching.
In November as part of his Continuing Professional Development (CPD) plan, Dan started an Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) accredited course in Coaching and Mentoring.
I invited Dan to share his insights on the difference between mentoring and coaching and how internal communicators can benefit from 1-2-1 support.
As a result of his hard work and studies, we’re able to offer some complementary coaching places through All Things IC. See the end of this article to find out more.
I’ll hand you over to him,
How coaching and mentoring can help internal communicators
Talking to peers, there can often be confusion about the differences between coaching and mentoring or uncertainty about when to ask for mentoring versus coaching. I remember feeling this way and hope this article helps give you some clarity.
Before I joined my first call with a previous mentor, I remember feeling unsure about what I would ask or come away with. I had seen mentoring promoted by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and the Institute of Internal Communication (IoIC), but never considered the benefits for my career.
In 2020, I was thinking about my next career move and whether to go freelance but was unsure whether it was the right decision for me. So I decided to give mentoring a try. Having the opportunity to talk with someone independent of work and home circumstances, bringing a new perspective to a particular situation, was a great help. We would talk through my situation, explore different options and signpost to different sources of information to help.
Throughout 2020 and 2021, I also received coaching, with helped give me clarity during a time that things felt uncertain with everything happening around the world. Having the space and dedicated time to focus and explore what I was needing became invaluable.
There are many definitions for both coaching and mentoring. Here are two definitions that resonated with me during a session with the British School of Coaching:
- Mentoring is the sharing of experience and knowledge to support the development of an individual in their career or a specialism.
- Coaching facilitates learning and creates self-awareness to help an individual reach their potential.
Another way to examine the two is that mentoring is ideal if you need practical, more directive support on a particular challenge or situation. The mentor acts as an advisor, sharing their insights and experiences. They typically have expertise in the subject area the mentee needs support with. Mentoring can also be a tool that coaches use.
Coaching helps you focus on future possibilities by creating a space for you to explore and experience what the end solution might be.
It could be that when you start with coaching, you don’t know the solution, and that’s ok. The coach lets you lead the session, reflecting on your thoughts and helping you focus on actions. It can be very easy for us to reflect on what went wrong rather than what could be in the future.
I want to share a little insight from a recent session where I was the coachee, exploring how I want to be seen as a coach. On the left is a plate I created before the session.
The centre allows the coachee to see their potential, the compass represents a 360-degree conversation, and the words help a coachee know how I’ll run my sessions.
The right-hand plate was created by my coach during a session together where she captured my thoughts. As you’ll see, it shows relationships between words I hadn’t considered on my own and gives greater focus on my thoughts. This was all my own exploration but was played back by my coach to help me.
So how might coaching and mentoring help internal communicators?
Here are some situations where mentoring and coaching can help:
- Preparing for an interview
- Working through a communication project for the first time
- A sounding board for potential solutions to a particular challenge.
- Career exploration if you aren’t sure what you want to do next
- Developing skills needed to help in your role such as influencing and advising
- Overcoming concerns and challenges with returning to work or settling into a new role after a promotion.
As part of Dan’s studies, we can offer several complementary coaching spaces to help comms pros working at a Head of IC or Director of IC level.
You’ll need to commit to seven 45-minute sessions, held monthly and delivered remotely between February and October 2023. If you’d be interested, send us a message or email firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Friday 3 February 2023.
Post author: Dan Holden.
First published on the All Things IC blog 19 January 2023.