Coaching and Mentoring involves skilled individuals helping others change. The two terms are often used interchangeably although there is an implication that mentoring is a longer lasting, personal relationship rather than a short term, or group based.
We often use coaching and mentoring to work with teams and individuals to improve their ways of working. Good coaches and mentors should be masters in their field, with relevant practical experience. We’ve seen a number of process improvement projects suffer from poor mentors and coaches. There’s a facetious, but sadly sometimes true, saying that:
Those who can, do; those that can’t, teach.
We recommend that mentors and coaches for software development teams have relevant practical experience in successful software development. Obviously that’s not very popular advice in the consultancy business! Good mentors and coaches can significantly help, teach and support development teams, but bad ones introduce waste and demoralize people. We suggest that mature teams appoint mentors or coaches when they want them, rather than have them imposed organizationally. Immature teams may need interventionist mentoring, but mentors must be wary of succeeding by “cult of personality” rather than knowledge transfer.
The best coaches and mentors strive to make themselves redundant by transferring knowledge directly into teams and individuals. Our coaches and mentors work with teams (at any level) as part of the team, nudging technical practices and transferring skills. We focus on exploring problems with teams, applying our experience but helping teams to solve problems and learn from that experience – not managing them or telling them what to do.
To misquote Ralph Nader:
“The function of coaching is to develop more coaches, not the acquisition of more followers.”
Our partners are all screened for practical recent software experience, through our networks we can provide expert coaches and masters for organizations and teams of any size. We don’t certify large consultancies; we work with individuals.