Find information about a range of approaches to managing organisational change – from Action Learning Sets, to the 7s model.
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- c Number of entries: 3
Coaching and mentoring
Mentoring is intended to improve an employee’s performance in a variety of ways, e.g. their ability to plan and meet goals, to lead organisational change, handle conflict or improve their interpersonal skills. This is achieved through development of a relationship with a more experienced colleague or organisational member, who is charged with transferring specific knowledge / skills as part of a career development process. Coaching refers to a developmental relationship between an external Organisational Development (OD) practitioner and a senior manager / executive, and tends to be less directive and more open-ended. Informed by techniques such as active listening, reframing and guided inquiry, overlaid with experience and good judgement, individuals are encouraged to identify new possibilities and redirect their efforts toward those things that matter most to them, yielding performance improvements.
The two approaches are broadly similar. The main difference concern the extent to which the assessment element (stages two and three below) is presumed in mentoring, and the process thus moves directly from stage one (establish principles) to stage four (planning interventions)
Stages in coaching and mentoring interventions:
- Establish principles: – this initial phase involves establishing the goals of the intervention; the resources available (frequency, duration, compensation); and ethical considerations including confidentiality.
- Conduct assessment: – this may be either personal or systemic. In the former, the client is guided through an assessment framework that may consist of a range of assessment measures, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI) and FIRO-B. Systemic assessments engage the client’s peers, managers and team in the process, typically through 360-degree feedback processes.
- Debrief the results: – client and facilitator discuss the results and consider the implications for action for intervention goals (which may be revised in the light of the data) and consequent actions.
- Develop an action plan: – the specific actions of both client and coach (mentor) are identified and agreed. These may include actions designed to achieve specific goals, new learning opportunities to develop skills, and projects to demonstrate competency.
- Implement the action plan: – the coaching and mentoring process consists of one-to-one meetings between coach and client in which the coach facilitates learning through challenge and support.
- Evaluate results: – progress is reviewed by coach (mentor) and client at appropriate intervals, with goals and / or action plans reviewed as appropriate, or the process terminated.
Adapted from Cummings and Worley, 2008): pp. 452-3)
Strengths and limitations
While common in many organisations, the evidence base for these interventions remains largely anecdotal and based on single case-studies. However, it is reasonable to assume that effective mentoring requires mentors to have detailed knowledge of the work of the organisation and be willing to share their experience and knowledge with the mentee – both dimensions are important and need to be carefully considered in the selection process. Mentor relationships may also be particularly important within diverse organisations in order to develop and effectively promote staff from minority social groups.
In relation to social care change, mentoring can be an important means to share experience and expertise within the organisation and both can promote reflection, learning and the resilience of individuals to lead change.
- Thomas, D. (2001) The truth about mentoring minorities: Race matters, Harvard Business Review, 79, 198-107
- Fagensen, E. And Baugh, G. (2000) Career paths, networking and mentoring, in D. Smith (ed.) Women at work, Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall
Communities of practice (CoPs)
A community of practice (CoP) is a group of people who share a profession or craft. They can either develop informally through a mutual interest or be created specifically to gain knowledge considered to be relevant to the field of enquiry. They are considered a good means by which to capture and disseminate tacit professional knowledge within informal settings through members meeting to share their expertise and experiences. In doing so they can contribute to the professional development of the individual members of the community and the community as a whole.
Stages of communities of practice:
- Support the natural evolution of the community: – CoPs are by nature dynamic and they need to be able to develop and change interests, goals and membership over time
- Create opportunities for discussions and reflection: – within the CoP and with outside perspectives to encourage different ways of achieving the CoP’s goals
- Welcome different levels of participation: – for example a core group with leadership roles, an active group who participate regularly, and a peripheral group who learn from their level of involvement. This latter is usually the largest group.
- Develop public and private spaces: – CoP members should be able to develop relationships within the group as a whole and between individuals according to specific needs
- Focus on the value of the community: – in which participants discuss the value of their participation
- Combine familiarity and excitement: – to energize members through sharing their insights into practice
- Nurture a regular rhythm for the community: – coordinating cycles of activity which allow members to regularly meet, reflect, and evolve
(Adapted from Wenger, McDermott and Snyder, 2002)
Strengths and weaknesses
In supporting the transfer of professional knowledge, CoPs may potentially increase organisational performance through decreasing the ‘learning curve’ facing new employees, generate new ideas for addressing customer / client needs and be a source of support for the individuals involved. In doing so they may also increase motivation and collaboration between colleagues.
In relation to social care change CoPs can enable collaboration between people in different roles and can include people who access services too. They are an excellent opportunity for learning and development and to develop trust between members. The danger is that those who are not members may seem them as exclusive and feel less valued or intimidated.
- Lesser, L.E. and Storck, J. (2001) Communities of practice and organisational performance, IBM Systems Journal, 40 (4)
- Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of practice: Learning, meaning and identityCambridge: Cambridge University Press
- Wenger, E., McDermott, R, and Snyder, W.M. (2002) Cultivating communities of practice. Harvard Business Press
It can be difficulty to bring to the surface the assumptions that underlie how people view an organisation and what is acceptable in terms of behavior and values. The cultural web is a tool that can be used to reveal the way that people understand their organisation and help them to share their underlying cultural assumptions.
The cultural web is used to guide staff and managers to consider current expectations about the organisation and in so doing promotes reflection on the expectations required to support new ways of working.
Figures: The Cultural Web
- Analyse the culture as it is now. Consider each element in turn and pose the question associated with it to stimulate discussion;
- Repeat the process, this time considering the culture that is wanted / needed;
- Map the two together to identify:
- Current strengths;
- Misalignments between elements;
- Factors that need to be reinforced;
- Factors which need to be changed
- Behaviours / beliefs which need to be fostered
- Prioritise required changes and develop an implementation plan
Strengths and limitations
Widely used in consultancy, the model provides an accessible approach that enables participants to share their understandings of organisational life. Critics raise concerns over the extent to which organisational cultures may be considered to be singular or as amenable to change as implied in the model; while helpful in surfacing the insights of organisational members, such critics question the extent to which cultures may be changed mechanistically to align with expectations without incurring unintended consequences.
In relation to social care change the cultural web can help to bring to the open the underlying beliefs of staff that may help or hinder improved services and greater engagement of people accessing services and their families. It can also help to illustrate the thinking of different layers and professional groups.
- Johnson, G and Scholes, K. (1999). Exploring Corporate Strategy. (5th ed). Prentice Hall.
- Johnson, G., Scholes, K. And Whittington, R. (2008) Exploring corporate strategy. (8th d). Prentice Hall