energizing breakthrough performance

Mentoring and Coaching in the Same Breath

Author: ; Published: Jun 8, 2011; Category: Mentoring; Tags: , , , ; No Comments»

We increasingly receive inquiries concerning our “mentoring and coaching” training. When such an inquiry is received, our first task is to clarify whether we are talking about “mentoring,” “coaching,” or both. Increasingly, clients are interested in both.

The terms mentoring and coaching are used by many as if they are interchangeable. Strictly speaking, they are not interchangeable. They are similar but different. Mentoring focuses primarily on the development of the individual, with secondary benefits for the organization. Coaching focuses primarily on the needs of the organization to ensure that an employee can perform tasks at an acceptable level of competency, with secondary benefits for the individual. As a matter of proper style and approach, mentors ask a lot of questions which require the mentee to think and learn. At the risk of over-generalization, coaches tend to be more prescriptive and directive in their approach than mentors.

That said, our mentoring training emphasizes that coaching is frequently an essential part of mentoring. What’s more, clients increasingly want a mix of mentoring and coaching so that the organization both ensures skills transfer and development between the mentor and the mentee as well as nurturing career futuring and robust employee self-development.

Figuring out the relative level of emphasis is essential to ensuring successful “Mentoring,” “Coaching,” or “Mentoring & Coaching” efforts in your organization. Clarify your terms, specify your goals, and you can design and launch a program that gets the most people on board with what you are seeking to do and how you are going about doing it. If concepts and intentions remain vague, you run the risk of ending up with a program that nobody likes

Matrix Management and Career Advancement/ Job Search

Author: ; Published: Apr 26, 2010; Category: Cross-Functional Teams, Matrix Management; Tags: , , , , ; No Comments»

Matrix management-related developments are monitored closely here at Strategic Futures. One good source of information is Google Alerts, a resource one can access and subscribe to on www.google.com. Google Alert–Matrix Management is increasingly displaying job vacancies where the applicant is expected to have experience managing or working in a matrix environment.

Indeed, we can’t help but observe that more and more companies are moving to matrix management. There are significant employment and promotional opportunities available to those who can represent fairly that they are ready, willing, and able to work in a matrix structure.

A jobseeker or someone looking for career advancement may have the requisite technical skills for a job vacancy but may lament that s/he doesn’t possess extensive matrix management experience–or perhaps none at all. What to do?

First, let’s consider that you may well have relevant experience and not know that you do. Have you worked on a cross-functional team where you were collaborating with people drawn from disciplines other than your own? This may have been in pursuit of a specific goal, performance of a specific project, or the satisfaction of a particular customer’s requirements. If so, you are part of the way there.  Have you worked successfully on multiple projects at once?  If so, this is something to emphasize!

Cross-functional collaboration is at the heart of any well-designed and managed matrix organization. Seeking out the productivity- and profit-building synergies that are expected from such collaboration is the strategic companion to the matrix structure. If you are able to talk about your contributions to results achieved from such cross-functional effort, you already have your foot in the door.

On the other hand and as you might expect, there’s more to it than that. When multiple cross-functional teams pursue shared objectives using shared resources, things get a bit more complicated and your ability to work through and with these complications is what the employer is seeking. There are specific roles that are played by participants in the matrix structure. There are also rules and tools that you need to know.

One way to get over this employment screening hurdle is to indicate that you have worked on cross-functional teams (if you have) and/or on multiple projects at once, and also to indicate that you have familiarized yourself with the structure and dynamics of a matrix organization by reading pertinent literature. You might want to order one or two of our booklets, namely Life in the Matrix and also Matrix Stations. Better yet, you may want to order my book, Matrix Management Success: Method Not Magic. Chances are if you read the booklets and/or the book as well as reviewing the articles in our Library such as Matrix Management: Method, Not Magic and our matrix management blogs, you’ll know as much as the person who is reviewing your resume and interviewing you. Indeed, if you read the book, odds are you’ll be more knowledgeable about matrix management than the person who is scrutinizing your application for employment.

Good luck in your quest!