Coach, mentor, communicate

Coach, mentor, communicate

Having looked at leadership over the past few months, we now need to focus on coaching and mentoring. The first important skill to consider is communication.

What is the difference between a coach and a mentor?

A coaching relationship is initiated as a result of the manager or supervisor’s job description, which translates to a formal and hierarchical relationship. There is always a specific objective to be achieved, which is often task orientated. It is driven and initiated by the coach.

The relationship between coach and employee is based on the task being taught. When this has been mastered, the relationship is over until the next task.

A mentoring relationship is based on the holistic development of an employee during his or her career, and not solely in a single area of operation. A mentor does not offer only work-related advice and support, but also supports and advises on personal matters.

This area of communication is generally initiated by the business, or by encouraging employees to seek a mentor from an approved panel, or to choose someone they are comfortable with.

Mentorship can be time bound within a formal process, which can continue informally after the agreed period, and by agreement between both parties.

In a nutshell, a mentor provides advice on career, development opportunities and what it would take to become a leader.

The coach, on the other hand, is more of a tutor; observing the employee’s work and actions and providing comments on the execution and skills which may be lacking.

Having focused on communication with customers in the last series of articles, it is important to state that good communication is also central to being a great coach and mentor. It is most important to develop superb communication skills.

The distinct attributes that make up any messages being communicated are words, measured at seven percent of the total; tone, at 38 percent; and body language, at 55 percent.

It is, therefore, imperative to project a positive image when communicating. Note how a motivational speaker carries him or herself when addressing an audience …

The first key element of communication is the sender. This person begins the communication by taking an idea or subject and relating it to the receiver. The message is then coded in order for the receiver to understand what is needed. This coding can take various forms such as written or spoken language, or non-verbal communication. The sender will decide on the best form of communication to use for the subject at hand.

The person receiving the message needs to decode and interpret the message and understand it fully. If this does not take place, communication would have been lost.

A very important aspect of communication is that the receiver responds in some way, thus initiating a two-way conversation, assuring the sender that the message has been understood as it was intended. This response can, once again, take various forms; for example, verbal or written communication, or a nod of the head.

Going forward, we will focus on developing coaching and mentoring skills of the highest order.


Jannie Koegelenberg is passionate about promoting positive customer experiences. He runs the EDGE Training Consultancy, a leading provider of world-class training and development programmes that meaningfully change and impact on people’s lives. He has a 38-year track record in the motor industry, having worked at Mercedes-Benz distributor United Cars and Diesel Distributors, Ford Motor Company SA and Toyota SA Marketing.

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