Coaching and Mentoring : information pack

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This resource has been written in response to colleagues wanting to understand more about coaching and mentoring.  It has been written to act as a support for a number of coaching and mentoring initiatives, managed both locally and nationally.

Understanding Coaching and Mentoring

We hope this resource will be of use to those who are looking to know more about the subject, and to those who may have a role in managing and delivering these services.  It is intended to offer a summary of what you might expect in NHS Scotland and partner organisations from a practical perspective, so you will not find a comprehensive summary of the subject here.

If people would like to know more about what else they might have access to, they should get in touch with their local Organisational Development team/Coaching Lead or the NHS Education for Scotland (NES) Organisational Development, Leadership and Learning (ODLL) team.

People working in the health and social care sectors in Scotland are facing huge changes in the way they work.  The integration of Health Boards, Local Authorities, the 3rd Sector and independent sector means that partnership working, cooperation and collaboration are key.  Health and social care workers have to take account of users and carers, being open and honest with them, treating them with respect, and ensuring that the care they provide is person-centred.  The Route Map to the 2020 Vision for Health and Social Care underlines the importance of partnership working in ensuring that all services are person-centred.

Caring for more people in the community, and doing more procedures as day cases, will result in a shift from acute to community-based care. Some roles are changing.  The GP’s role, for example, is expanding, alongside the impetus to keep people healthy and in the community.

Changes of this magnitude require effective leadership. The NHS Scotland Leadership Qualities Framework (2014) sets out what leaders have to do in this challenging environment. The framework makes clear that this applies to leaders at all levels, including the frontline. 

 Leaders have to be able to

  • engage and empower a range of internal and external stakeholders by building shared visions;
  • manage corporate governance and performance whilst being supportive, engaging people and enabling others to change;
  • manage the tension between innovation and risk; and
  • manage upwards as well as across organisations, manage ambiguity, take difficult decisions and have challenging conversations. This requires leaders to be resilient. Resilience is seen as a critical quality for NHS leaders (NHS Scotland Leadership Qualities Framework, 2014).

But it is not just what employees do; how they do it is equally important. Guidance Notes for the NHS Scotland Leadership Development Framework (July 2014) spell out in detail the qualities and behaviour expected of leaders. Core values underpin behaviour. As well as collaboration and cooperative partnership working, NHS Scotland’s values include flexibility, openness and accountability to the public.

Leadership and coaching culture

The NHS in Scotland believes that leadership is distributed throughout organisations, that is, leaders can be found at all levels. It also aspires to collective leadership across the sector. As Michael West (2015) says in his King’s Fund publication about NHS leadership:

“Leaders need to work together, spanning boundaries within and between organisations, prioritising overall patient care, rather than the success of individual components, and to build a cooperative, integrative leadership culture – in effect, collective leadership.”

Coaching and mentoring are important because they are tools which will enable leaders to do this. Ultimately, the end goal is to develop a coaching culture where distributed and collective leadership flourish, to the benefit of patients.  This takes time. Hawkins (2006) has outlined what a coaching culture looks like, and the stages needed to get there:

  1. The organisation employs coaches, develops its own coaching and mentoring capacity, and actively supports coaching endeavours. This enhances individuals’ leadership ability.
  2. Coaching becomes the norm for individuals, teams and the organisation, no longer provision-led as a service by development specialists. This increases distributed leadership. 
  3. Coaching and mentoring become embedded in the performance management system and HR processes, managers getting feedback on their coaching style and their ability to develop their staff. This increases organisational learning.
  4. Coaching becomes the predominant style of management and leadership in the organisation, so that, for example, individuals who are stuck with a problem seek out brief peer coaching from a colleague, and team meetings might follow a coaching format.
  5. Coaching becomes ‘how we do business’ with stake-holders, across functions and partner organisations.  This results in more effective engagement with all stakeholders.

Support is available to help managers and leaders manage the transition to integration and collective leadership, and to help build a coaching culture. Depending on your need, it might take the form of you

  • asking your line manager to adopt a coaching style in managing you;
  • working with an internal or external coach;
  • working with a mentor, either on a formal or informal basis;
  • developing coaching skills yourself in order to coach direct reports or colleagues;
  • knowing when and why to encourage others to have a coach or mentor. 

This resource discusses the support offered through coaching and mentoring, starting with a brief overview of the evolution of coaching as a profession to set the context.