- Differentiate between the terms “mentoring” and “coaching.”
- Explain Gregory Dawson and Richard Watson three stages of mentoring.
- Describe Pamela Kalbfleisch’s mentoring enactment theory.
- Differentiate between executive and supervisory coaching.
- Describe and explain the three types of coaching.
This chapter has thus far focused on the nature of leadership and followership. We are now going to turn our attention to two very specific types of leader-follower behaviors: mentoring and coaching. Unfortunately, there tends to be some confusion within the organizational world as to the nature of these two terms, so let’s quickly define them here before exploring each one in more depth. Mentoring is “the transfer of your [mentor’s] knowledge or professional experience to another person [mentee or protégé] to advance their understanding or achievement.”Hicks, R., & McCracken, J. (2009). Mentoring vs. caching: Do you know the difference? Physician Executive, 35(4), 71-73; pg. 71. Coaching, on the other hand, is the process of providing advice, instruction, or support in an attempt to help an individual increase efficiency or productivity in the workplace. The basic difference between mentoring and coaching is the desired result. The goal of mentoring is to help someone advance through the various hurdles associated with one’s career; whereas, coaching is about helping an individual engage in self-improvement in an effort to do her or his job better. Now that we’ve explored the basic differences between mentoring and coaching, let’s explore each in turn.
MentoringThe transfer of experience or knowledge from a senior individual (the mentor) to a junior individual (the mentee or protégé) in an effort to help the junior individual learn the ins and outs of organizational life. is a term used throughout business and a variety of other endeavors in life, and the concept goes back thousands of years to Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. The Odyssey tells the story of an elderly and wise sea captain named Mentor who gives Odysseus’s sun, Telemachus, guidance while his father is off fighting the Trojan War. From the gentle guidance of Mentor to the more formalized and established mentoring programs commonly seen in corporate America, the word “mentoring” commonly refers to a relationship where one individual with more knowledge and experience (the mentor) aids another individual who has less knowledge and experience (the mentee or protégé).
So, why would any individual desire to belong to a mentoring relationship. According to Kathy Kram in her ground breaking book Mentoring at WorkKram, K. E. (1985). Mentoring at work. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman., mentoring provides two basic functions for mentees: career and psychosocial. Career functions are the ones people most commonly think of when they think about mentoring because career functions are associated with helping the mentee “learn the ropes” in the organization (or a field) in an effort to help that person climb the corporate-ladder. Mentors can engage in a number different behaviors to help a mentee do this. For example, a mentor can coach the mentee (more on this later in this section); a mentor can sponsor the mentee’s advancement by placing the mentee on interesting and challenging projects; a mentor can help mentee receive recognition and/or ensuring the mentee is widely visible; and a mentor can provide the mentee certain protections from organizational or field-based politics.Ragins, B. R., & Kram, K. E. (2007). The roots and meaning of mentoring. In B. R. Ragins & K. E. Kram (Eds.), The handbook of mentoring at work: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 3-15). Los Angeles, CA: Sage. The psychosocial functions, on the other hand, include mentoring behaviors that “build on trust, intimacy, and interpersonal bonds in the relationship and include behaviors that enhance the protégé’s professional and personal growth, identity, self-worth, and self-efficacy.”Ragins, B. R., & Kram, K. E. (2007). The roots and meaning of mentoring. In B. R. Ragins & K. E. Kram (Eds.), The handbook of mentoring at work: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 3-15). Los Angeles, CA: Sage; pg. 5. The goal of psychosocial functions is to help foster a relationship that is built on “acceptance and confirmation and providing counseling, friendship, and role-modeling” for the mentee.Ragins, B. R., & Kram, K. E. (2007). The roots and meaning of mentoring. In B. R. Ragins & K. E. Kram (Eds.), The handbook of mentoring at work: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 3-15). Los Angeles, CA: Sage; pg. 5. In the rest of this section we are going to examine the basic stages that a mentoring relationship goes through, mentoring enactment theory, and the outcomes mentoring has for mentees, mentors, and organizations.
Stages of Mentoring
Mentors and mentoring is not a stagnant concept by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, mentoring relationships evolve over time and change as the mentee and mentor’s relationship changes. Gregory Dawson and Richard Watson explain mentoring as a three stage process: hierarchical years, junior/senior colleague years, and trusted sage years.Dawson, G. S., & Watson, R. T. (2007). Involved or committed? Similarities and differences in advising and mentoring in the academic and business world. Communications of the Association for Information Systems, 2007(20), 3-10.
After either acquiring a mentor on one’s own or having one formally assigned to you, the first period in a mentoring relationship is one marked by formality. During these years, the mentor’s job is to direct and guide a mentee through corporate life. This period can last anything from three to five years and generally includes such behaviors as assisting “that person in understanding the corporate culture, getting appropriate work supplies, completing required forms, getting placed on an initial project and guiding the new professional through recurring yearly actions (e.g., performance appraisals).”Dawson, G. S., & Watson, R. T. (2007). Involved or committed? Similarities and differences in advising and mentoring in the academic and business world. Communications of the Association for Information Systems, 2007(20), 3-10; pg. 5.
Junior/Senior Colleague Years
The junior/senior colleague years are marked by a period when the mentor and mentee redefine their relationship based on the needs and goals of those involved in the relationship. One of the marked differences during this time period is the change from a directive approach to mentoring (where the mentor is advising and supervising the mentee) to one that is marked by mutual respect and collaboration. Instead of the mentor inviting the mentee to participate on projects, the mentee is now dealing with her or his own projects and may or may not invite her or his mentor to participate as an equal partner on projects. During this period, the mentee should further expand her or his professional network and be seen as someone who can launch out on her or his own. You’ll notice that this period has both the notion of junior and senior colleague. This shift happens naturally over time. As someone starts out as a junior college, there is the expectation that the mentee will take on more and more projects of increasing complexity. Eventually, these projects become more central to the organization’s mission and the individual takes on senior status as a colleague to her or his mentor.
Trusted Sage Years
The final stage of the mentoring relationship occurs when the mentor and mentee are no longer bound by notions of organizational hierarchy and truly develop a working friendship with one another. During this stage it becomes even more important for an individual to have their own mentees as a way to pass on the legacy they received from their own mentor(s). Probably the number one hallmark of going from the colleague years to the trusted sage years is the establishing of one’s own mentoring relationships with mentees.
Pamela Kalbfleisch’s Mentoring Enactment Theory
Now that we’ve explored the basic stages of mentoring, we are going to switch gears and try to understand a more general understanding of the initiating, maintaining, and repairing of mentoring relationships. To help us understand how mentor-mentee relationships functions from a communication perspective, Pamela Kalbfleisch developed the mentoring enactment theory.Kalbfleisch, P. J. (2002). Communicating in mentoring relationships: A theory for enactment. Communication Theory, 12, 63-69.From Kalbfleisch’s theory on mentoring, we learn that the very center of the mentor-mentee relationship are two people who are joined together either formally or informally for the explicit purpose of achieving success. While mentees desire mentoring relationships because of the known value of mentoring on one’s career trajectory (see mentee outcomes below), mentors experience inherent costs.
For example, there are costs associated with “loss of time spent coaching a protégé, vulnerability through sharing hard-earned techniques and secrets, and potentially developing difficulties in one’s personal and professional life because of a relationship with a protégé.”Kalbfleisch, P. J. (2002). Communicating in mentoring relationships: A theory for enactment. Communication Theory, 12, 63-69; pg. 64. So, why then do mentors opt to enter into mentoring relationships? Well, there is not a single answer to this question. Different people have a variety of different answers depending on their own organizational and personal perceptions of mentoring itself. According to Kalbfleisch there are four common reasons people decide to mentor a protégé: altruism, pay-it-forward, organizational expectations, or self-interest. First, a mentor could enter a mentoring relationship out of pure altruism. The mentor may feel some kind of deeply held obligation to help others, so he or she seeks out and enters into mentoring relationships out of a simple desire to see others grow. Second, a mentor could enter a mentoring relationship because he or she feels the need to pay-it-forward. The notion of paying-it-forward is based on the idea that the second generation mentor was at one point a protégé, so he or she feels a sense of obligation to her or his mentor, so the second generation mentor pays the debt to her or his mentor by opting to take on protégés. In this sense, you’re paying-the-mentoring forward to a new generation of protégés. The third reason a mentor may opt to take on a protégé is a result of organizational expectations. Many organizations have formal mentoring requirements for individuals who reach a certain seniority stage. Often in these formal mentoring situations, the mentor may not have a choice in the choosing of her or his protégés, so these mentoring relationships may not be the most effective because the mentor may feel strong-armed into the relationship. The final reason some mentors take on a protégé is out of pure self-interest. Some mentors want a protégé for no other reason than they want someone can help “accomplish outcomes or for an entourage to follow in one’s wake.”Kalbfleisch, P. J. (2002). Communicating in mentoring relationships: A theory for enactment. Communication Theory, 12, 63-69; pg. 64. When it’s all said and done, there are a variety of reasons or even a combination of reasons why a mentor ultimately decides to enter into a mentoring relationship.
Kalbfleisch’s mentoring enactment theory was developed by applying the knowledge communication scholars have about a range of other interpersonal relationships. After examining what researchers know about interpersonal relationships, Kalbfleisch proposed nine basic propositions related to the enactment of mentoring relationships (Table 7.4).
|Proposition 1||Generally, requests to a more advanced other to be a mentor to the requestor are likely to be rejected in initial interactions between the advanced other and the requestor.|
|Proposition 2||Generally, requests to a more advanced other to be a mentor to the requestor are more likely to be rejected than are requests for help on a specific task made by this same requestor.|
|Proposition 3||Requests made to a more advanced other to be a mentor to the requester will be more likely to be accepted when the advanced other previously has agreed with a third party to serve as a mentor in a relationship.|
|Proposition 4||Offers made to a less advanced other to be a protégé are likely to be accepted.|
|Proposition 5||Offers of help made to a less advanced other are likely to be accepted.|
|Proposition 6||Protégés will be more likely than mentors to direct their conversational goals and communication strategies toward initiating, maintaining, and repairing their mentoring relationship.|
|Proposition 7||The closer a mentor is linked to a protégé’s career success, the greater the protégé’s communicative attempts to initiate, maintain, and repair a mentoring relationship.|
|Proposition 8||Female protégées will be more likely than male protégés to direct their conversational goals and communication strategies toward initiating, maintaining, and repairing their relationship with their mentor.|
|Proposition 9||Mentors will be more likely to direct their conversational goals and communication strategies toward maintaining and repairing their relationship when invested in the mentoring relationship.|
The first three propositions are all geared to examine the initiation of mentoring relationships. In essence, mentors are not likely to take on a protégé when the protégé approaches the mentor and asks for that mentoring relationship. However, mentors are more likely to help a potential protégé with a specific task. In essence, it’s better as someone looking for a mentor to ask for help on a specific task and then let the relationship develop naturally. The one case when this isn’t true occurs when a potential mentor as previously agreed to mentor someone. In these cases, the mentor has already been primed to taking on the role of mentor, so he or she tends to be more open in these cases to taking on a mentor.
The four and fifth propositions approach mentoring initiation from the mentor’s perspective instead of the protégés’. In proposition four, Kalbfleisch theorizes that when a mentor asks a protégé to initiate a mentoring relationship, the protégé is more likely than not to agree to the relationship. This is also true if a mentor reaches out to a potential protégé offering a helping hand (as seen in the 5th proposition). In both of these cases, individuals who are less-advanced in a hierarchical structure are willing and will accept both offers of help and offers of mentorship.
Propositions six, seven, and eight examine the role of communication within a mentor-protégé relationship. Specifically, Kalbfleisch theorizes that protégés will use conversations and strategic communication to initiate, maintain, and repair their mentoring relationships. Kalbfleisch predicts that this is more likely if someone is in a mentoring relationship that impacts the protégé’s success in the workplace or if the protégé is a female. Obviously, if someone’s success is in the hands of a mentor, making sure that relationship is effective is of paramount importance to the protégé. As such, the protégé is going to strategically use communication to ensure that the mentoring relationship is stable and healthy. Kalbfleisch also predicts that women will engage in this behavior to a greater degree than men, which has been supported by previous research on mentoring.Kalbfleisch, P. J. (1997). Appeasing the mentor. Aggressive Behavior, 23, 389-403.
The final proposition for the enactment of mentoring relationships theorizes that as mentors become more involved in the mentoring relationship, the mentors will become more likely to direct conversational goals and communication strategies towards maintaining and repairing that relationship with their protégés. In the initial stages of a mentoring relationship, the mentor really has nothing to gain from the mentoring relationship but incurs a number of costs. As the relationship progresses, the mentor invests a lot of time and resources into developing her or his protégé, so it should be no surprise then that the mentor will want to protect that relationship because of the investment.
Outcomes for Mentoring
By now you may be wondering why mentoring is so important, well we’re here to tell you that there a wide range of positive outcomes that happen as a result of mentoring. To help us understand the importance of mentoring in the modern organization, let’s examine outcomes related to mentees, mentors, and organizations.
In a 2007 analysis of 20 years of mentoring research, Thomas Dougherty and George Dreher found a wide range of positive benefits for everyone involved in the mentoring process.Dougherty, T. W., & Dreher, G. F. (2007). Mentoring and career outcomes. In B. R. Ragins & K. E. Kram (Eds.), The handbook of mentoring at work: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 51-93). Los Angeles, CA: Sage. Here is a partial list of the outcomes mentoring can have on a mentee over the course of her or his career. All of these outcomes are positively related to mentoring unless otherwise stated in the outcome:
- Career Commitment
- Career Mobility
- Career Opportunity
- Career Recognition
- Employee Motivation
- Hierarchical Level
- Job Satisfaction
- Lower Levels of Work Stress
- Lower Turnover Intentions
- Number of Promotions
- Organizational Commitment
- Organizational Socialization
- Total Annual Compensation
While there has been a lot of research examining how mentoring is beneficial for the protégé, there has not been as much research examining possible benefits to the mentor-mentee relationship from the perspective of the mentor. As noted earlier, there are a range of reasons an individual may opt to become a mentor, so some of the outcomes are intrinsically tied to the original reason(s) someone opts to engage in a mentoring relationship with a potential protégé. However, the following tangible benefits have been seen for the mentor:Allen, T. D. (2007). Mentoring relationships: From the perspective of the mentor. In B. R. Ragins & K. E. Kram (Eds.), The handbook of mentoring at work: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 123-147). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.
- Job Satisfaction
- Lower Burnout Rates
- Lower Turnover Intentions
- Number of Promotions
- Organizational Commitment
- Subjective Career Success
One theoretical reason for why mentors actually have positive outcomes (especially those related to promotions and salaries) may have to do with the fact that “mentors may be rewarded by organizations because they are recognized as good organizational citizens.”Allen, T. D. (2007). Mentoring relationships: From the perspective of the mentor. In B. R. Ragins & K. E. Kram (Eds.), The handbook of mentoring at work: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 123-147). Los Angeles, CA: Sage; pg. 135.
Many of the outcomes seen for both the mentor and the mentee are also outcomes for the organization itself. For example, organizations benefit from employees who are motivated, satisfied, less likely to leave, and show higher performance and productivity levels. Based on these factors alone, you would think organizations would spend more time formalizing the mentoring process to ensure that all employees receive these kinds of opportunities and advancements within the organization. Furthermore, numerous studies have found a very strong return on investment for organizations who engage in formal mentoring programs, so formalized mentoring programs really do make business sense.Kaye, B., & Scheef, D. (2000, April). Mentoring. In ASTD’s, Info-line Series. Alexandria, VA: American Society for Training and Development
As discussed at the beginning of this section, coachingThe process of providing advice, instruction, or support in an attempt to help an individual be more efficient or productive in the workplace. can be defined as the process of providing advice, instruction, or support in an attempt to help an individual be more efficient or productive in the workplace. From this perspective, the goal of coaching is to help individuals succeed in the workplace. Where the goal of mentoring is to help someone advance through a mentee’s career, coaching focuses on helping an individual engage in self-improvement in an effort to do her or his job better.
Now before we go into more detail about coaching, we should differentiate between two basic types of coaching commonly discussed in the management literature. First, we have executive coachingThe establishment of a professional relationship between a hired individual (professional coach or therapist) whose job it is to help an individual within a leadership position and that person within a leadership position become all that he or she can be within an organizational environment., or the “process of a one-on-one relationship between a professional coach and an executive (the person coached) for the purpose of enhancing behavioral change through self-awareness and learning, and thus ultimately for the success of the individual and the organization.”Baek-Kyoo, B. J., Sushko, J. S., & McLean, G. N. (2012). Multiple faces of coaching: Manager-as-coach, executive coaching, and formal mentoring. Organization Development Journal, 30, 19-38; pg. 26. In the world of executive coaching, a leader within an organization hires an executive coach for the pure purposes of improving that leader’s performance within the organization. An entire sub-field of executive coaches exist in today’s marketplace. Some executive coaches are very effective and have helped the top CEOs in the county become better leaders and achieve their organization’s goals. However, there are many charlatans that exist within this market, so we do not really recommend just hiring an executive coach on a whim.
Supervisory coachingThe communicative process of helping a subordinate improve her or his performance through direction, encouragement, and support., on the other hand, involves “an ongoing process for improving problematic work performance; helping employees recognize opportunities to improve their performance and capabilities; empowering employees to exceed prior levels of performance; and giving guidance, encouragement and support to the learner.”Baek-Kyoo, B. J., Sushko, J. S., & McLean, G. N. (2012). Multiple faces of coaching: Manager-as-coach, executive coaching, and formal mentoring. Organization Development Journal, 30, 19-38. This form of coaching involves what most people in the workplace will encounter with regards to coaching. We term this supervisory coaching because in this instance the coaching is actually being conducted by one’s supervisor in the workplace.
Three Types of Coaching
In 1948 during the American Psychological Association Convention in Boston, Massachusetts, Benjamin Bloom led a discussion about creating a common language for test developers and educators. Through a series of conference presentations from 1949 to 1953 groups met to discuss the idea of a common language, which ultimately culminated in the publication of the ground-breaking book Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals; Handbook I: Cognitive Domain in 1965.Bloom, B. S., Engelhart, M. D., Furst, E. J., Hill, W. H., & Krathwohl D. R. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals, Handbook I: Cognitive Domain. New York, NY: David McKay. In this book, Bloom and his colleagues noted that there are three primary dimensions of learning that teachers should be concerned with in the classroom: of cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skill), and affective (attitude). Before we explain what each of these three domains of learning are, please take a second and complete the Organizational Coaching Scale found in Note 7.53 "Organizational Coaching Scale".
Organizational Coaching Scale
This survey includes a number of statements about how you may feel about your current working condition. You will probably find that you agree with some of the statements and disagree with others, to varying extents. Please indicate your reaction to each of the statements by marking your opinion to the left of each statement according to the following scale:
|Strongly Disagree||Disagree||Neutral||Agree||Strongly Agree|
- _____My supervisor works with me to improve my on-the-job skills.
- _____My job skills have gotten better as a result of my supervisor’s training.
- _____My supervisor has not helped me with any job skills necessary to complete my work.
- _____My supervisor has not attempted to correct any of my job related behaviors.
- _____My supervisor trains new employees on any necessary skills to completely function in our workplace.
- _____My supervisor does not work with me to improve my on the job skills.
- _____My job skills are not improving because of a lack of training from my supervisor.
- _____My supervisor has helped me improve my job skills.
- _____My supervisor corrects job-related behavior problems when he or she sees them.
- _____My supervisor makes sure all new-hires are completely trained on skills that are necessary to function in our workplace.
- _____My supervisor makes sure I have all necessary information to complete my job.
- _____My supervisor withholds information that could help me function better as an employee.
- _____My supervisor makes sure my information needs are fulfilled.
- _____My supervisor makes sure I understand what I’m doing at work.
- _____My supervisor provides me with all the information I need to be a competent worker.
- _____My supervisor prevents me from getting necessary information to complete my job.
- _____My supervisor gives me all the information I need to help me function better as an employee.
- _____My supervisor does not make sure that I understand what’s going on at work.
- _____My supervisor does not make sure my information needs are fulfilled.
- _____My supervisor does not make any attempt to see if I understand what is going on at work, or not.
- _____My supervisor is concerned with whether, or not, I enjoy what I’m doing while at work.
- _____My supervisor does not care if I think my job is dull.
- _____My supervisor clearly is involved with trying to motivate me to be a better employee.
- _____My supervisor wants to make sure that I’m not bored on the job.
- _____My supervisor is only concerned with whether, or not, I get my work done.
- _____My supervisor does not try to motivate me on the job.
- _____My supervisor does not care if I am interested in the work at all.
- _____My supervisor tries to make sure I’m excited to be at work.
- _____My supervisor doesn’t care about how I feel about my job.
- _____My supervisor creates a positive working atmosphere.
SCORING: To compute your scores follow the instructions below:
Step One: Add scores for items 1, 2, 5, 8, 9, & 10
Step Two: Add scores for items 3, 4, 6, & 7
Step Three: Add 24 to Step 2.
Step Four: Subtract the score for Step two from the score for Step Three.
For Skills-Based Coaching, scores should be between 10 and 50. If your score is above 50, you perceive your supervisor to be teaching you the skills you need to perform your job. If your score is 29 or below, you do not perceive your supervisor as teaching you the skills you need to perform your job.
Step One: Add scores for items 11, 13, 14, 15, & 17
Step Two: Add scores for items 12, 16, 18, 19, & 20
Step Three: Add 30 to Step 2.
Step Four: Subtract the score for Step two from the score for Step Three.
For Cognitive-Based Coaching, scores should be between 10 and 50. If your score is above 50, you perceive your supervisor to be providing you the knowledge you need to perform your job. If your score is 29 or below, you do not perceive your supervisor as providing you the information you need to perform your job.
Step One: Add scores for items 21, 23, 24, 28, & 30
Step Two: Add scores for items 22, 25, 26, 27, & 29
Step Three: Add 30 to Step 2.
Step Four: Subtract the score for Step two from the score for Step Three.
For Affective-Based Coaching, scores should be between 10 and 50. If your score is above 50, you perceive your supervisor to be promoting in you a positive attitude about your job. If your score is 29 or below, you do not perceive your supervisor is either unconcerned with your attitude about your job or is actually creating a negative organizational environment.
Source: Wrench, J. S., McCroskey, J. C., Berletch, N., Powley, C., & Wehr, A. (2008). Organizational coaching as instructional communication. Human Communication, 11, 279–292.
You may be wondering what three domains of learning has to do with organizational coaching. Quite a lot actually. In a 2008 study conducted by Wrench, McCroskey, Berletch, Powley, and WehrWrench, J. S., McCroskey, J. C., Berletch, N., Powley, C., & Wehr, A. (2008). Organizational coaching as instructional communication. Human Communication, 11, 279-292., the researchers argued that organizational coaching is fundamentally related to learning, so examining organizational coaching in-light of the three domains of learning made conceptual sense. We should also note that the three domains of learning have been applied in other non-educational settings. For example, the three domains of learning are commonly referred to as the KSAs (knowledge, skills, and attitudes) in both training and development and human performance improvement.Biech, E. (Ed.). (2008). ASTD handbook for workplace learning professionals. Alexandria, VA: American Society for Training and Development.
The first domain of coaching is referred to as cognitive-based coachingThe coaching process associated with the acquisition or enhancement of recognition and recall of information and the development of intellectual abilities and skills., which refers to the recognition and recall of information and the development of intellectual abilities and skills. Let’s look at both parts of this definition. First, individuals undergoing cognitive coaching will be taught how to recognize and recall information that will help them perform their jobs better. This could be anything from learning how to recognize and troubleshoot problems as they arise in the workplace to more simplistic tasks like knowing who to call when you have a question. The second part of coaching involves the development of intellectual abilities and skills. Overtime, a good coach will help her or his subordinates develop themselves intellectually.
When it comes to developing someone intellectually, you want to stretch the subordinate and give them new cognitive tasks that will be a reach for the person without too much undue stress. For example, one of our colleagues had a secretary who was not technically savvy. When he became the secretary’s immediate supervisor, he decided he wanted to use an electronic calendar instead of the more traditional paper and pen calendar for keeping his meetings. While this may not seem like a big deal, this secretary needed to be coached and taught how to use the computer scheduling program. This new cognitive task was just enough of a stretch for the secretary without causing her complete frustration and a huge amount of stress.
The second type of coaching, skills-based coachingThe coaching process associated with the acquisition or enhancement a specific skill that can help someone be more productive or efficient., is one that is very important in the workplace even though it’s a domain of learning often overlooked in the educational system. Psychomotor learning emphasizes “some muscular or motor skill, some manipulation of material objects, or some act which requires neuromuscular co-ordination.”Krathwohl, D. R., Bloom, B. S., & Masia, B. B. (1964). Taxonomy of educational objectives; the classification of educational goals. Handbook II: The affective domain. New York, NY: David McKay, p. 7 The goal of psychomotor learning is the acquisition of a specific skill that can help someone be more productive or efficient. Think back across your own life. You’ve learned many skills that make you more productive and efficient in life. Maybe you’ve learned to use a computer keyboard and no longer need to look at your fingers while typing. Maybe you’ve learned how to use the bells and whistles of a specific software program like Microsoft Office or Adobe Creative Suite. When we learn these skills, they clearly involve cognitive power, but we refer to them as psychomotor because it’s the manipulation of your body to complete a task, which is a fundamentally different type of learning. Think about when you learned to ride a bicycle. You could have all the knowledge in the world about gravity and the engineering of a bicycle, but just having the cognitive knowledge is not enough to get you upright and moving down a road successfully.
A great deal of coaching in the workplace involves psychomotor coaching because the professional world is filled with skills that workers need to learn. Everything from learning how to put together a burger at a fast food restaurant to computer programming involves learning specific skills sets in the workplace.
The final type of coaching that happens in the workplace relates to the affective nature of one’s work. The affective domain of coaching is one where “objectives which emphasize a feeling tone, an emotion, or a degree of acceptance or rejection. Affective objectives vary from simple acceptance to selected phenomena to complex but inherently consistent qualities of character and conscience [learning about] interests, attitudes, appreciations, values, emotional sets or biases.”Krathwohl, D. R., Bloom, B. S., & Masia, B. B. (1964). Taxonomy of educational objectives; the classification of educational goals. Handbook II: The affective domain. New York, NY: David McKay, p. 7 In other words, affective coachingThe coaching process associated with the acquisition or enhancement positive emotional reactions to an individual’s work and working environment. examines an individual’s emotional reaction to her or his work and working environment.
First, affective coaching involves ensuring that one’s subordinate has a positive attitude towards the work he or she is accomplishing. When subordinates do not see the value of their work or how their work fits into the larger picture of the organization, it’s very common that they will become disillusioned and not be optimal workers. As such, supervisors have a responsibility to ensure that their subordinates maintain a positive attitude about the work. In fact, subordinates often take their cues from supervisors with regards to how they emotionally approach a task. If a supervisor assigns a task with a grimace on her or his face, then of course the subordinate is going to approach that same task with some trepidation and disappointment. Ultimately, supervisors, through their coaching capacity, need to check in with subordinates and see how they are emotionally reacting to their work.
Second, affective coaching involves ensuring that employees are working in and helping to create a positive working environment. In some organizations where supervisors are removed from their subordinates, they may have no idea when an organizational climate is becoming toxic. For our purposes, we want supervisors who are tied into the organization and actually go about fostering and encouraging a positive working climate for their subordinates.
Outcomes of Coaching
Now that we’ve examined the basic types of coaching in the workplace, let’s talk about some of the research that’s been conducted examining organizational coaching. In the original study that created the Organizational Coaching Scale, the researchers found that individuals who had supervisors who utilized all three forms of coaching were more motivated, satisfied, and productive.Wrench, J. S., McCroskey, J. C., Berletch, N., Powley, C., & Wehr, A. (2008). Organizational coaching as instructional communication. Human Communication, 11, 279-292. Furthermore, subordinates who reported having coaching supervisors reported fewer disengagement strategies. Disengagement strategies are strategies that an individual uses to decrease closeness or termination relationships in the workplace.Sias, P. M., & Perry, T. (2004). Disengaging from workplace relationships. Human Communication Research, 30, 589-602. In essence, people who have a positive coaching relationship with their supervisor feel more connected to their organizations, so they are less likely to start to disengage from their relationships in the workplace. Furthermore, a subsequent study examining cognitive, skill, and affective coaching in an organization found that individuals who received all three types of coaching were less likely to engage in latent dissent in the workplace (see Chapter 5 "Communicating Between and Among Internal Stakeholders" for a refresher on organizational dissent).Berletch, N., Powley, C., Wrench, J. S., & Wehr, A. (2007, April). The interrelationships between positive feedback and coaching in the workplace. Paper presented at the Eastern Communication Association’s Convention, Providence, RI.
Overall, the research results clearly indicate that organizational coaching is an important part of the success of an organization. For this reason, supervisors should create clear strategies for how they go about cognitive, skill, and affective coaching to ensure that it is happening in a systematic manner. Too often, coaching is left to chance in the modern workplace to the organization’s detriment.
- Differentiate between the terms “mentoring” and “coaching.”
- Explain Gregory Dawson and Richard Watson three stages of mentoring. The first stage, the hierarchical years, occurs after a protégé has gotten and a job and the mentor’s job is to direct and guide a mentee through corporate life. The second stage, the junior/senior colleague years, marked by a period when the mentor and mentee redefine their relationship based on the needs and goals of those involved in the relationship. During this stage, the mentor-mentee relationship changes from a directive approach to mentoring (where the mentor is advising and supervising the mentee) to one that is marked by mutual respect and collaboration. The final stage of mentoring, the trusted sage years, occurs when the mentor and mentee are no longer bound by notions of organizational hierarchy and truly develop a working friendship with one another.
- Pamela Kalbfleisch created mentoring enactment theory as a way to explain the establishment and enactment of mentoring relationships within organizational settings. The theory examines a series of conversational goals and communication strategies that both mentors and mentees utilize within a mentoring relationship. The nine propositions proposed in the theory can be seen in Note 7.53 "Organizational Coaching Scale".
- Executive coaching occurs when an individual, the leader, hires an external consultant who functions in the position as paid-for mentor (usually a professional coach or therapist specializing in leader development). The goal of executive coaching is to help the leader become all the he or she can be within her or his leadership position. Supervisory coaching, on the other hand, includes the day-to-day work that a person in a supervisory position does with someone in a subordinate position. The goal of supervisory coaching is to help the subordinate improve her or his performance through direction, encouragement, and support.
- Famed educational researcher Benjamin Bloom and a group of colleagues first noted there were three domains of learning. McCroskey, Berletch, Powley, and Wehr furthered these notions of learning domains but attaching them to supervisory coaching. The three forms of coaching are: cognitive-based coaching (recognition and recall of information and the development of intellectual abilities and skills), skills-based coaching (acquisition or enhancement of a specific skill that can help someone be more productive or efficient), and affective coaching (acquisition or enhancement positive emotional reactions to an individual’s work and working environment).
- Think of a time when you’ve been mentored? At what stages do you think your mentoring relationship reached? Did you get all the way to trusted-sage? Why or why not?
- Apply Pamela Kalbfleisch’s mentoring enactment theory to one of your own mentoring relationships (either as a mentor or mentee).
- Complete the Organizational Coaching Scale in Note 7.53 "Organizational Coaching Scale". Based on the results from your analysis of your supervisor’s coaching behavior, what areas do you think your supervisor could improve on? Why do you think your supervisor coaches you in the way he or she does?