mentoring moment

Using Mentoring Moments to Coach Your Team to Greater Career Success

Millennials aren’t the only generation that demands frequent feedback and expects to advance quickly up the career ladder. In fact, HR typically sets this expectation during the recruiting and job interview process. It’s a rare recruiter who doesn’t tout “career advancement opportunities” with the organization. It’s also rare that the HR representative or hiring manager misses a chance to dangle that “advancement” carrot during the interview.

So what are you doing to meet that expectation of career growth? Hopefully, you’re equipping your managers to take on the role of coach for their direct reports.



Integrating Mentoring Moments Into Your Leadership Style


Get Training in Coaching Techniques

You don’t go to your family physician and expect her to repair the mitral valve problem in your heart simply because she has a medical degree. You seek out a specialist. Neither should you expect the typical manager or supervisor to know how to coach team members simply because they communicate reasonably well on everyday projects and meet their numbers.

Coaching is a specialized skill and a specific mindset. You have to get the necessary training for excellent coaching.


Capture the Mentoring Moment

When a boss reminds you that you’re responsible for coaching your employees, it often feels like they’re pouring gasoline on a fire. In your day-to-day tasks, you’re often putting out crisis fires and pressing to meet urgent deadlines. Adding this one extra “responsibility” to your shoulders feels like something “nice to do”—but too often gets relegated to the bottom of your priority list.

Coaching is “just one more thing” that adds to the length of an already jam-packed day.

But what if coaching is not necessarily time-consuming? What if you could provide the coaching in less than a few seconds or minutes?

Here’s how: The “mentoring moment.” Here are specific examples of what those quick-but-high-impact “sessions” could look like:

Example #1: Manager Lester has a call scheduled with a key supplier to negotiate a lower price in exchange for a larger volume purchase. As he passes the workstation of top performer Julianna, Lester might issue an invitation to monitor the call: “At 10:00, I have a call scheduled with XYZ vendor. I expect it to be a tough conversation where we’ll have to offer some flexibility. If you’re available at 10:00, why don’t you step into my office and listen to the call.” Then after the call, Lester debriefs Julianna on the “why” behind his newly negotiated deal. Julianna will understand that her manager values her work and is investing in her knowledge bank for the future.

Example #2: Carlos catches manager Susan on her way to the cafeteria and asks “a quick question.” Instead of simply providing that brief answer, Susan uses the opportunity to coach: “I’m headed to lunch. Why don’t you walk along with me, and let me explain the bigger goal here with the data we’re collecting.” Once again, the employee adds to his knowledge base without the manager having to add minutes to her day.

Mentoring moments reflect a mindset. As a manager, you don’t need specific skills for this kind of informal coaching conversation. These conversations come naturally. You simply need models and ideas to become more aware of these coaching opportunities.


Build Your Track Record

Your executive team will be tracking your coaching success:

  • Make sure that any formal appraisals of your own performance include your track record for coaching.
  • Keep track of how many of your direct reports get promoted.
  • Consider your value to the organization because of your coaching for career growth.
  • Track how many superstar performers you attract to your team because of your reputation for coaching and concern for their career advancement.


As you earn a reputation for this on-this-job coaching during “mentoring moments,” you’ll  retain and grow top performers, reduce turnover, and improve morale. Not a bad legacy!


Learn more ways to identify mentoring moments with Communicate Like a Leader: Connecting Strategically to Coach, Inspire, and Get Things Done.

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