Like any manager or leader of a company in the midst of a transformation, you’ll often call upon consultants to help move your company along the path of change. But who should you call when you want to help your team members move forward? How do you differentiate among the various people available to support their development? Do you need a coach, a mentor, or a trainer? There are many different terms, and it’s easy to get confused.
Here are some explanations to help you sort through the terms and become acquainted with the various roles.
Guided by a method, coaches help people think, reflect on their skills and know-how and find their own ways to reach the established objectives. A certified coach will make sure there is an agreement, with clear goals and a defined timeframe.
Classic line: Given the goals you've set for yourself, what are some other ways you could ...….
Mentors are people with experience in a specific field. They, too, encourage thought and reflection, but often offer solutions by sharing their own experience and contacts. A mentor is often someone you have a long-term relationship with, who accompanies you for an undefined period.
Classic line: Whenever I found myself in that type of situation in the past, here’s what I did: …
Trainers are subject matter experts who transfers knowledge in a more formal way. They offer training on specific topics, usually to groups of people. In some cases, they may provide individual coaching, but generally on a specific topic.
Classic line: In Module 2, we will learn about typical ways to deal with….
The answer, of course, is: “It depends”. Before deciding, take the time to understand your needs and your business situation.
First, define your needs:
Next, take the time to understand your situation:
Once your analysis is complete and has been validated by your supervisors, take the time to also understand your employees’ preferences for a given approach. Don't hesitate to talk to multiple service providers to identify the best solution for your company. The ideal solution may be a combination of various approaches, and may change over time. Be open to experimenting and adjusting as you go.
We would like to have enough hands to do everything, deal with everything, but we simply can’t handle it all! That is also true for a company, especially when facing a change in direction. Growth is exciting, but it comes with its own set of challenges.
It’s simple math: If you have 100 things to do as many employees to do them but you only have 80 available, you’re not going to make it. Worse, by trying to do everything, you may be spreading yourself too thin and end up completing nothing. Rather than being positive, this could be draining and demoralizing for your teams. Furthermore, any success you do achieve may be more due to good luck than good planning.
The solution we all refuse to accept is simply to prioritize. Prioritizing is often equated with eliminating the things that are less important and less urgent. That’s a valid approach and a good place to start. But in the life of an entrepreneur with limited resources or a company in transformation, we must go a step farther and separate the essential from the desirable, sometimes even sacrificing good ideas in the process.
While this is complicated, remember that proper prioritization will help you protect that which is essential to your company’s growth.
Here are a few steps to get you there:
There is no perfect formula. Nevertheless, once you know exactly what projects your team is working on and you’ve put in place the tools and tracking, you will have a better idea of the size of the task ahead. That, in turn, will allow you to assess your real ability to handle it, and will increase your chances of success.
While Aesop’s tortoise teaches us that “Slow and steady wins the race”, it’s also worth remembering that “Rome was not built in a day”.