Coaching and Mentoring for Business

Human Resource Management International Digest

ISSN: 0967-0734

Article publication date: 12 January 2015



(2015), "Coaching and Mentoring for Business", Human Resource Management International Digest, Vol. 23 No. 1.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Coaching and Mentoring for Business

Article Type: Suggested reading From: Human Resource Management International Digest, Volume 23, Issue 1

Grace McCarthy, 2014, Sage, ISBN: 9780857023360

Grace McCarthy’s Coaching and Mentoring for Business seeks to go beyond the vast body of skills-based literature that dominates the study of coaching and mentoring and focus on the contribution that coaching can make to the implementation of human-resource and organizational strategy.

The author includes an introduction to coaching and mentoring theory, and then goes on to look at: coaching and mentoring skills and how they may be applied in relation to individual change; coaching and mentoring for leaders and by leaders; coaching and mentoring for strategy, innovation and organizational change; and coaching and mentoring in cross-cultural and virtual contexts. The book also explores ethical issues in coaching and mentoring before concluding with an evaluation of success in coaching and mentoring and a discussion of emerging issues.

The book claims that a mentor can help the person being mentored to discover the motivation to discard old habits, practices and attitudes. It offers support and encouragement as the person being mentored grapples with new understanding.

People are more likely to listen to and accept feedback from coach-mentors with whom they have rapport. Coach-mentors sometimes try to consciously demonstrate empathy by mirroring the body language of their clients. However, this can lead to loss of trust if the client notices the mirroring and believes it is deliberate or insincere. On the other hand, if the mirroring happens naturally and is perceived as such by the client or not noticed consciously by the client, it may help to build rapport.

Many coaches find it useful to have a model as a guide in a coaching conversation or across a coaching interaction. A model is simply a way of articulating ones’s approach in word and/or images. Unfortunately, the shorter time-frame of the coaching process can lead some coaches to apply models mechanically, and are keen to get through every step.

Summarizing and paraphrasing ensure that everyone has the same interpretation of what has been discussed and agreed, says the author. Too strong a focus on a desired future state can lead people to ignore problems or opportunities in the present.

Information feedback may be given at any time, but formal feedback, particularly about a negative incident, should be given in a quiet confidential setting, where people can get over the shock which they may experience if the feedback relates to something of which they were unaware of or of which they had a different view. If there is a big disconnect between the views of feedback giver and feedback recipient, it may be better to allow the person time to reflect his or her view of the incident, and reconvene later to share perspectives and explore what needs to be done to change either performance or perception.

While feedback is valuable, a future focus or so-called “feed-forward” is a useful way for managers to highlight the strengths of employees and indicate how they might improve in the future. Combining training with coaching and mentoring helps leaders to implement what they learn in training and sustain their changed behavior until it is their natural way of doing things.

The author says that coaching and mentoring are powerful forms of leadership development. A leader who works with a coach-mentor can identify his or her own blind spots, accept and reflect on feedback and set goals to address.

It has long been known that motivation relates to both intrinsic and extrinsic factors – intrinsic being internal factors such as a personal desire to do a job well, and extrinsic being external factors such as rewards. The outcome of motivation is action of some kind, the duration and extent of the action being related to the degree of motivation. Unless people find their goals motivating, they are unlikely to strive to attain them.

Coaches and mentors apply their skills to help leaders to raise their self-awareness, reduce their blind spots and make successful transitions to new roles in the same or different organizations. These applications of coaching and mentoring increase the return on investment in other forms of leadership assessment and development, whether 360-degree reviews, training, induction or outplacement.

The book claims that coaching helps an executive to gain clarity about the results he or she hopes to accomplish and how to make them happen. Similarly, a mentor helps to focus on things that matter.

Coach-mentors help people to identify their strengths and how to appreciate the strengths of others. They help people to decide when different approaches are appropriate and to have the courage to adopt these behaviors. When people propose ideas, other people often build on those ideas.

Effective listening, says the author, helps leaders to have a better understanding of the root causes of resistance. This may lead to developing better solutions.

The book brings together a diverse range of research and practical examples. It concludes that coaching and mentoring will strengthen their reputation as ethical and credible offerings, which will enhance the experience and the achievements of individuals, teams and organizations.

This is a well-researched book with lots of references. Written in a conversational tone, it outlines vignettes to help readers to consolidate their learning by illustrating real-life situations. It is useful for coaching scholars and practitioners.

Reviewed by Professor M.S. Rao, available at:,

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