If one were to survey a panel of CEOs and executives and ask them what their most important asset is they would say, People. If one were to ask that same panel of leaders what the one thing they lack in their organization the answer would probably be trained and developed personnel. While many organizations spend countless of dollars on training, seminars and development courses, others tend to leave this important human resource issue to chance. Is it possible to create such synergy within an organization that the leadership rarely looks outside the organization for promotions Is it possible for an organization to improve its human resource development and identify a tangible contribution to the overall business success of that particular organization In The Leadership & Oranization Development Journal, Jeffery M. Wachtel & David J. Veale conducted a study on and they contend Coca-Cola is one such company that is completely convinced that this is possible.
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Coca-Cola believes that by using coaching and mentoring to strengthen the link between development and business strategy it is the key to creating a healthy and striving business model. The company views coaching as a tool for directly enhancing performance, it sees mentoring, as achieving its purposes mainly through building relationships. Coca-Cola has identified 5 types of coaching they also understands that there is considerable overlap between them. The goal of Coca-Cola to achieve usefulness and not so much theoretical precision. The five types of coaching according to Coca-Cola are; modeling, instructing, enhancing or improving performance, problem solving and inspiration.
The goals of mentoring at Coca-Cola are to help the protégé better understand the company and his or her role in it. Coca-Cola believes that human resource development (HRD) is a key to building competitive advantage through people and to the creation of a high performing organization. As stated before many companies, Coca-Cola included, have invested their resources in the development of formal programs designed to promote mentoring and coaching relationships. The struggle at Coca-Cola has been to maximize and /or optimize HRDs contribution to business success. The purpose of this paper is to describe Coca-Cola mentoring and coaching program and to present directions for future research and practice based on the Coca-Cola model.
COACHING Coca-Cola views coaching as an interaction that has the purpose of enhancing performance. By providing goals, techniques, practice and feedback, the coach helps the person increase competence and the probability of success. According to Coca-Cola, coaching can occur down the hierarchy, up it or laterally. In coaching, the relationship is not of up most important; rather the agreement that the coaching is valuable is the critical element.
All be it that this particular formula or approach is successful for Coca-Cola other experts view this slightly differently. According to Harvard Business Essentials edition on coaching and mentoring, they describe it as an activity through which manager work with subordinates, not peers, to foster skill development, impart knowledge, and inculcate values and behaviors that will help them achieve organizational goals and prepare them for more challenging assignments. According to Veale & Wachtel, Coca-Cola Food considers coaching a method for increasing accountability, renewing commitment, and facilitating continual learning.
As a result Coca-Cola believes they will have more highly skilled people who perform better and have better working relationships. Coca-Cola holds in high regard the one on one interaction the one will have with their boss and it is an opportunity for the leader to critique the performance of an associate. Thru this process it will foster accountability. It is also an opportunity for the leader to discuss goals as it relates to the organization and in return will build a valuable commitment between the associate and the organization. Finally, the one on one gives and opportunity for feedback in an environment that is optimal for leaning.
The Harvard Business Essentials describes coaching as a necessary skill for all leaders and by perfecting it will actual make ones job easier and enhance their career. The HBE actually outlines some similarities to the Coca-Cola philosophy it states that effective coaching is overcoming performance problems, developing associate skills, increasing productivity, creating promotable associates, improving retention and fostering a positive work culture.
COACHING-MODELING One of Coca-Cola types of coaching is modeling, according to Veale & Wachtel this is typically not thought of as a coaching type. However Coca-Cola thinks modeling is an important part of the coaching process, and perhaps a fundamental type. They believe if a coach can not or does not enact the skills and values that he or she is trying to get the other to do, it becomes difficult for the associate to learn. In other words, some people need to see a thing done in order to understand and do it themselves. Modeling could be inviting a person to see how a budget is prepared or a sales presentation is made. Working together on a project can provide many opportunities to model the expected behavior. This is more commonly known as do as I do.
In his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership John C. Maxwell touches on this point, he entitles it the The Law of Reproduction. Which he states that more than four out of five of all leaders that you ever meet emerged as leaders because of the impact make on them by established leaders who coached them. He sites the NFL as a great place to see the do as I do principal in effect. Just about every successful coach in the NFL has spent time working with another strong leader who helped to teach and model for him. He sight such great coaches as Bill Walsh and Tom Landry. Bill Walsh who set an example for Mike Holgrem, George Seifert and in return they modeled for Steve Mariucci, Mike Shananhan, Dennis Green, Ray Rhodes, Pete Carroll, and Jon Gruden. All of these coaches have achieved high levels of success in the NFL or the collegiate level.
COACHING-INSTRUCTING According to Coca-Cola instructing is the other end of the pendulum; this is where the coach goes from do as I do to do as I say. Here the coach knows the skills and is teaching them to the associate. The first step in this process is providing a vision of what is expected and an overview of the goal and process. In the book Youre In ChargeNow What authors Thomas J. Neff & James M. Cirtrin explain that setting proper expectations is on the of the most important things a leader has to do. They go on to say that as a leader you will develop expectations about all the things you will face on a day to day basis: priorities, management, organizational culture, the quality of the companys products and services, its competitive positioning, its brand, its operating processes and its decisionmaking style. Know these expectations will help shape the agenda, guide thinking and articulate the definition of success.
After the expectations are clearing defined for the associate, Coca-Cola follows the map of tell, show, do and correct. The tell part verbally highlights the specific tasks to be done, the show part provides an example of doing the task (i. e. modeling again), the do allows the associate to try the task(s) and the correcting provides an opportunity for the coach to give feedback on the associate actions.
COACHING-ENHANCING OR IMPROVING A PERFORMANCE Another key coaching element according to Coca-Cola is enhancing or improving a performance. In other words do this better. In this particular element explaining why and what of performance, asking for input, providing feed back and ideas on how to improve, summarizes a plan and offers support. In this type of coaching, the assumption is that the person generally does know what to do, but is not doing as well as he or she can. Thus, the why coach wants improvement and provides a rationale for the effort to be made to enhance. In the Harvard Business Essentials on Coaching and Mentoring they refer to this as the ability to identify coaching opportunities.
They go on to say that a coach has plenty of knowledge to share with othersknow how knowledge that can improve the performance of an associate so then your task becomes looking for opportunities to give feedback and facilitate improvement in an associate. This also has been known as the Situational Leadership Model. Coca-Cola believes by asking the associate for their ideas on barriers or possible improvement strategies provides both an opportunity for the associate to own the enhancement effort and an opportunity for the coach to discover misperceptions. By adding ideas and later offering support, the coach indicates both interest and involvement in the enhancement effort.
COACHING-PROBLEM SOLVING Problem solving is also key to Coca-Cola coaching model. The coach, by providing a format as well as leading the process, helps the associate learn and use a method of problem solving. The steps that are involved in this segment are to clarify the problem, involve the associate, funnel the problem and build a plan. Jeffery Wachtel & David Veale go on to say that Coca-Coal Foods requires the coach to ask for specifics in the description of problem and then summarizing what was said. This communication format is common in many types of problem solving. This aspect of coaching helps the person be clear and specific at the outset of problem solving, which can be very valuable.
In the involvement step, the coach helps the associate think of the breadth of stakeholders in the problem and include them. In the funneling step, the coach may help the associate look at variety of meanings, causes or factors surrounding the problem. These methods open up the problem solving process (the funnel) and then provide a structure for identifying the major issues (focusing the funnel). After causes are identified, the coach may help the associate by making sure the list of generated solutions is large enough and by helping the associate use a method to determine the best solution for the problem. Finally, in the planning step the coach helps the associate by suggesting strategies, people, action steps and schedule dates.
COACHING-INSPIRATION The final element in the coaching model according to Coca-Cola, Wachtel & Veale sighted is inspiration. The you can do it paradigm, here the coach makes sure of a personal connection with the associate and uses that to inspire the person. In Managing For Dummies Bob Nelson & Peter Economy state that managers must create environments that support their associate and allow creativity to flourish. Nelson & Economy outline 4 tips to assist in creating a supportive environment; make your associates feel safe, open the channels of communication build and maintain trust & respect and develop your greatest asset: your associate.
MENTORING At Coca-Cola Wachtel & Veale identifies mentoring as the 2nd human resource development block that has an overall tangible contribution to the business success of its organization. Coca-Cola feel as though mentoring achieves its purpose through building strong relationships. The mentor is usually someone higher up in the organization, someone who has experience and knowledge about whos who, whats what and how things get done. It is a formal relationship structured around the development needs of the associate. In most cases the mentor and the associate are from different departments so there are no direct reporting relationships involved. In this relationship much is built on the one-on-one relationship, the selection of people who are to be the mentors and associates is critical. Coca-Cola makes sure that those selected as mentors are successful, enjoy working for the organization, are wise in the ways of the organization and can get things done.
Additionally, Coca-Cola ensures that the mentor is comfortable with being a listener, being asked questions and with being a teller of advice and perspective. Associates on the other hand, need to be ready for a relationship in which they know that they do not know and are comfortable asking questions and revealing concerns. The Harvard Business Essentials, Coaching and Mentoring edition defines mentoring as support aim toward an individuals development through both career and psychosocial functions. The HBE goes on to state the benefits of mentoring to the organization are threefold: (1) it develops the human assets of the organization, (2) it helps to transfer important tacit knowledge from on set of associates to another and (3) it aids in the retention of valued associates. The cost of mentoring can be measured in the mentors time and commitment.
Coca-Cola uses a ten-part mentoring program, according to Wachtel & Veale most facilitated mentoring programs have a formal process which defines each step and audits the ongoing success of the program. Coco-Cola Foods has refined their process to the following: (1) identifying the associate, (2) identifying development needs, (3) identifying potential mentors, (4) mentor/associate matching, (5) orientation for mentors and associates, (6)contracting, (7) periodic meetings to execute the plan, (8) periodic reports, (9) conclusion, (10) evaluation and follow up. We will only discuss the 5 most important steps in this particular mentoring model.
MENTORING-IDENTIFYING THE ASSOCIATE Coca-Cola identifies the group of people who are eligible for the mentoring program. This can be done in a variety of ways looking at certain job levels, departments, associate characteristics, etc. Once the target group is defined, specific associates can be identified by having them volunteer, be nominated by a boss or other sponsor or compete for selection through application and testing. In his book Developing The Leaders Around You, John C. Maxwell says in order to identify a potential leader you must start with an inventory. He describes an inventory as the following: (1) Assessment of needs what is needed (2) Assets on hand-Who are the people already in the organization who are available (3) Ability of candidates-Who is able (4) Attitude of candidates-Who is willing (4) Accomplishments of candidates-Who gets things done MENTORING-IDENTIFY DEVELOPMENTAL NEEDS
In this step developmental needs are determined and an individual development plan can be prepared. This is done by having the associate disclose what he/she thinks are their developmental needs, having bosses determine these needs, and/or having skill deficiencies through assessment. Authors Nelson & Economy refer to this as a Career Development Plan which can be limited to, skill goals, learning goals and the actual plan. They believe this plan can be implemented by meeting with your associate about their careers, discuss your associate strengths and weaknesses, asses where your associate are now and follow through on your agreements, and make sure the associate follows through on theirs.
MENTORING-INDENTYFY POTENTIAL MENTORS This segment produces a pool of individuals who can serve as mentors. The may volunteer for the role, may be chosen by an associate or may be recruited by senior managers. Prior to selection, a mentors general ability and willingness to handle the role should be assessed. A study conducted by a Harvard professor Linda Hill in the late 1980s pointed out three characteristics the mentors must posses. The must set high standards, they make themselves available to their protégésin other words, they are willing to invest the time and effort required for good mentoring. Finally they must orchestrate developmental experiences for those they counsel. This is accomplished by steering protégés onto important projects, teams, and into challenging jobs (HBE 100).
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MENTORING-MENTOR/ASSOCIATE MATCHING Wachtel & Veale writes that Coca-Cola selects a mentor specifically for the associate after considering the skill and knowledge needed by the associate, and the ability of the mentor to provide practice or guidance in those areas. Compatibility of styles and personalities can be critical. As stated in the Harvard Business Essential Coaching & Mentoring edition, a productive mentoring relationship depends on compatible personalities and complementary abilities and interest. So when an organization is seeking the right match it should look for mutual respect, a logical fit, no political agendas, compatible temperaments or styles and commitment. They further write that bosses do not necessary need to be the mentor there are pros and cons to this type of relationship (HBE 96).
Consider the case of Bell Canada, a telecommunications giant with more than 42, 000 employees scattered over a huge geographic area, much like Coca-Cola. This company was searching for a way to transfer the knowledge of experienced employees to those less experienced and the break down typical silos that divide the different business units. Mentoring seemed the best approach, but in so large and disperse an enterprise, the company needed a way to implement the program, they need a way to match the mentor with associate. Bell Canadas solution was low-cost online matching program designed to give protégés a way to browse an enterprise wide pool of potential mentors. That program was made available to all employees. The enabling mechanism was a search tool capable of generating a list of suitable mentors based on a protégés own profile information. The benefit to users was its ease of use: A person needed only to describe what he or she was looking for, and the search engine would produce a list of people available to help (HBE 97).
MENTORING-PERODIC MEETINGS Mentors and associates should meet for performance planning, coaching, and feedback sessions. The frequency is determined by the nature of the relationships and by geographical proximity. At these meetings, both parties are candid about progress of the process. As found in the Harvard Business Essential some things that are and should be transpired in this meeting is Actionable Advice and Feed Back and criticism on the behavior. They advised the mentor to resist the temptation to solve the protégés problems. A mentors job is to help other people help themselves. Protégés will not learn to help themselves if you come to the rescue whenever they encounter problems. Criticize the behavior, not the person when a protégé is going off track, the mentor has an obligation to bring the fact to his attention, not in a directive way, but in an observational way. Do not allow the protégé to become dependent on you. The best mentors put themselves out of the mentoring business by helping their charges to fend for themselves.
Coca-Cola believes that it is easier to evaluate the success of the mentoring relationship if periodic status reports are given by the mentor and the associates.
CONCLUSION-SUMMARY In conclusion, this particular case study and article does not draw a tangible connection between this particular program and the success of the Coca-Cola. What I can conclude is this, Coca-Cola earnings in Q1 2005 were $1. 4 billion which was an 18% increase over Q1 2004 and the dividends increase by 12%. These are pretty healthy numbers by any standard, therefore if Coca-Cola believes that such robust performance can be contributed to their coaching & mentoring program then I think it is certainly note worthy for other organizations. As it was stated before people are the most important asset to an organization. Coco-cola has invested; I am sure, countless hours and dollars to perfecting this program. Like anything else I am sure that it is still a work in progress. In this particular case there may not be tangible evidence to suggest coaching and mentoring is the strengthen tie in the link between development and business strategy, but we all can agree that it is something other than a great product. Human resource development will continue to be the key to building a competitive edge for any organization and without a solid human resource development plan it almost becomes pointless to exist as a business.
The advantages of coaching and mentoring are many and varied. Information is provided directly, is relevant and usually done in context so it can be applied immediately. For the coach it may lead to such an increase in skills that they can delegate some of their work to an associate. For a mentor, it could just being the satisfaction of a knowing you had a hand in developing a rising star. The disadvantages really reside with the individuals involved. Coaching is a relationship activity designed to increase performance. Generally, coaching is informal and occurs between the boss and the employee(s). Mentoring is a more formal process, based on a one-on-one relationship with someone distant in the organization. While a mentor can use all of the coaching types, their purpose is broader in scope than that of a coach.
CONCLUSION-EVALUATION As a leader within my organization I have often felt that people are our most important asset and in order to meet the goals of the company it is imperative to have people that are raised up through the ranks and are developed and ready to take on more responsibility as dictated by the organization. My organization is one that does not have a specific program in place to facilitate such an environment; however it expects this type of culture to be prevalent within the organization. After being exposed to such an article we too should consider bringing such a program from behind the scenes and implementing as part of our corporate culture. I think the model that is prevalent at Coca-Cola is on that any organization can easily mimic. It is evident that none of the principles are new; the difference is that Coca-Cola has implemented a system and it is woven into the fabric of the organization and it is an expectation of all the employees that work there. My overall evaluation of this particular model is excellent The Five phases of Coaching and the 10 parts to mentoring is something that is useful, practical, and easily implemented.
Harvard Business School Press 2004 Harvard Business EssentialsCoaching and Mentoring, Harvard Business School Press, Boston Massusetts Maxwell, John C. 1998, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership Thomas Nelson Inc., Nashville Tennessee Maxwell, John C. 1995, Developing The Leaders Around You Thomas Nelson Inc., Nashville Tennessee Neff, Thomas J. & Citrin, James M. 2005, Youre In ChargeNow What Crown Business New York, NY Nelson, Bob & Economy, Peter Managing For Dummies IBG Books Worldwide, Inc. Foster City, California Wachtel, Jeffrey M & Veale, David J. 1998 “ Coaching and Mentoring at Coca- Cola Foods Training & Management Development Methods, Vol 12 Pages 901-905