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For a company to secure its short- and long-term health, it needs to have a good leader as well as a strong management team. According to Graham Bentley, managing director of staffing specialist company Kelly, this means that more than ever, mentoring in the work environment is of the utmost importance.
“Companies today are operating in a period of unusual environmental and global market change,” he explains. “How to maintain a competitive edge in this exciting but also volatile world is a challenge many company executives are focusing on addressing.
“Few companies make mentoring part of their HR strategy. Mentoring is, however, one of the most powerful tools a company has to develop both managers and leaders, and in the process, create a competitive advantage,” he says.
Mentoring is an ancient and respected method of conveying skills, culture and values between individuals. But Bentley believes that mentoring has lost some ground in favour of coaching.
“Mentoring and coaching are not synonymous,” he points out. “Just as there is a clear distinction between leadership and management, so, too, do mentoring and coaching have different functions in a company.
“Coaching tends focus on improving specific work behaviour and processes. A coach’s role is to provide structure, foundation and support to encourage people to create results – this is ideal for grooming managers.
“On the other hand, a mentor is generally an expert in a field who provides a learning situation, which is ideal for nurturing a potential leader.
“As both coaching and mentoring are vital for organisations, so, too, are good managers as important as good leaders for a company to succeed.
“Both leaders and managers are essential for effective corporate growth,” says Bentley. “Leaders can be seen as visionaries, but it is vital that leaders learn from managers about how to turn opportunities to results.”
He also highlights the importance of managers to reinforce new cultures throughout a business.
“From a strategic perspective, it makes sense to nurture leaders and managers from within,” he explains.
“For a business to become more productive, and to be able to differentiate itself through innovation, it needs to have the right training tools in place; it needs both mentoring and coaching. But it also needs to have the right people in place to facilitate mentoring and coaching.”
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