Coaching and Mentoring For Dummies

by Marty Brounstein



About the Author

Marty Brounstein is the Principal of The Practical Solutions Group, a training and consulting firm based in the San Francisco Bay area that specializes in management and organizational effectiveness. Marty’s consulting work includes one-on-one coaching with managers and executives, assistance to groups working to become productive teams, and guidance and direction for organizations who are establishing practices for high performance and employee retention. His training programs target management as well as employee-development issues from leadership to effective communications.

As a consultant, speaker, and trainer since 1991, Marty has served a wide variety of organizations from hi-tech to government, for-profit to nonprofit. He has bachelor’s degrees in education and history and a master’s degree in industrial relations. Prior to beginning his consulting career, he spent a couple of years as a human resources executive. Coaching & Mentoring For Dummies is his third management book; he is the co-author of Effective Recruiting Strategies: A Marketing Approach and the author of Handling The Difficult Employee: Solving Performance Problems.

To contact Marty regarding consulting, speaking, or training services, call (650) 341-8001 or e-mail him at



To Goldie Brounstein, a very special lady in my life whom I was lucky to call “Mom.” I wish you were here today so that I could hand you this book — I know you would be very proud.


Author’s Acknowledgments

I want to thank the staff of Hungry Minds who provided the opportunity to write this book and gave me positive support throughout the project: Kathy Welton, Mark Butler, Karen Hansen, and Tere Drenth. Thanks, too, to friend and colleague Carl Welte for his technical support on this book.

In addition, while too many to name, the managers and executives with whom I’ve had a chance to work over the past ten years have served as inspiration for this book. Those who demonstrate the coaching work that I teach serve as the examples you see in this book. They know that coaching works, and I thank them for the fine job they do and also for the opportunities I’ve had to learn from them.


Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our online registration form located at

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions, Editorial, and Media Development

Project Editor: Tere Drenth

Acquisitions Editor: Karen Hansen

Acquisitions Coordinator: Jill Alexander

General Reviewer: Carl Welte

Editorial Director: Kristin A. Cocks


Project Coordinator: Emily Wichlinski

Layout and Graphics: Amy Adrian, Joe Bucki, Brian Massey, Barry Offringa, Tracy Oliver, Brent Savage, Jacque Schneider, Erin Zeltner

Proofreaders: Laura Albert, Corey Bowen, Susan Sims, Charles Spencer

Indexer: Sherry Massey

Special Help Andrea Boucher, Mark Butler, Amanda M. Foxworth, Michelle Hacker, Melba Hopper

Publishing and Editorial for Consumer Dummies

Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher, Consumer Dummies

Joyce Pepple, Acquisitions Director, Consumer Dummies

Kristin A. Cocks, Product Development Director, Consumer Dummies

Michael Spring, Vice President and Publisher, Travel

Brice Gosnell, Publishing Director, Travel

Suzanne Jannetta, Editorial Director, Travel

Publishing for Technology Dummies

Richard Swadley, Vice President and Executive Group Publisher

Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher

Composition Services

Gerry Fahey, Vice President of Production Services

Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services




About This Book

Conventions Used in This Book

Foolish Assumptions

How This Book Is Organized

Icons Used in This Book

Where to Go from Here

Part I : Building Employee Commitment through Coaching

Chapter 1: Get Off the Bench and Be the Coach!

Getting the Lowdown on Business Coaching

Managing as a Coach versus as a Doer

I’m a Doer, You’re a Doer — So Many Managers Are Doers

Chapter 2: Laying a Foundation that Builds Commitment

Tuning In to Personal versus Positional Influence

Seeking Commitment versus Compliance in Today’s Workforce

Managing as a Tone Setter

The Collaborative and Assertive Nature of Coaching

The Five Pillars for Building Commitment

Chapter 3: Coaching and Managing Diversity

Finding Out What Diversity Is All About

Assumptions: The Ingredient to Leave Out

Focusing on Performance and Behaviors — Not on Assumptions

Chapter 4: Finding the Time to Stay Connected

Coaches versus Doers: Views on Using Time

Two Techniques — MBWA and MBPA — for Building Connections

Let’s Do Lunch

One-on-One Meetings

Part II : Performance Coaching for Results

Chapter 5: Giving Constructive Feedback, Not Praise and Criticism

Using Constructive Feedback versus Praise and Criticism

Giving Constructive Feedback: A Step-by-Step Guide

The Discussion after Giving Feedback

Impacting the Pillars of Commitment with a Regular Dose of Feedback

Chapter 6: Setting Performance Plans the SMART Way

Mixing the Key Ingredients in Performance Plans

Writing SMART Performance Plans

Mutually Setting Performance Plans

Helping Build the Pillars of Commitment with a Good Dose of SMART Performance Plans

Chapter 7: Taking the Blues Out of Reviews

Ending the Anxiety of Reviews

Staying on Top of Old Smoky with Status-Review Meetings

Going to the “Doctor” for a Checkup

Doing a Postmortem — Or How Did the Surgery Go?

Building the Pillars of Commitment Block by Block

Part III : The Fine Art of Mentoring and Tutoring

Chapter 8: The Do’s and Don’ts of Mentoring and Tutoring

Helping Your Staff Fish for Themselves

Understand the Ways Not to Mentor and Tutor

Using the Two Tools of Mentoring and Tutoring

Impacting the Pillars of Commitment

Chapter 9: Don’t Tell, but Do Ask: Tutoring with Questions

When and When Not to Plug in the Questioning Tool

To Be or Not to Be? How to Ask Tutoring Questions

Facilitate and Listen (Don’t Dominate or Vacillate)

Handling Challenging Bumps along the Road

The Case of Tutoring with Questions

Impacting the Pillars of Commitment

Chapter 10: Taking Them under Your Wing

Flying in the Right Direction by Taking Employees Under Your Wing

Using the Buddy System Now and Then

Wing-Taking Isn’t for Pluggers

Wing-Taking and the Pillars of Commitment

Part IV : Motivating and Empowering Your Staff

Chapter 11: Motivation — Not Inspiration or Perspiration

Calling for Action: Understanding Motivation

Show Me the Money: Pay as Dynamo or Dynamite

Accentuating What Motivates and Eliminating What Demotivates

Understanding Yourself as a Manager

Chapter 12: Seven Practical Strategies to Motivate Employees

Understanding the Magnificent Seven

Shaking Those Pillars of Commitment

Chapter 13: Don’t Try to Do It All Yourself — Delegate

Delegating 101

Knowing What to Delegate

Matching Employees to Tasks

Putting the Delegating Tool into Action

Handling Employee Resistance

Using Delegating to Build the Pillars of Commitment

Part V : Grooming and Growing Your Employees

Chapter 14: Knowing When — and How — to Train

Come One, Come All: Time For Training

Preparing Before You Teach

Keeping Your Class Involved

Using Others for Instruction

Impacting the Pillars of Commitment through Training

Chapter 15: Building Career Self-Reliance

Coaching for Career Growth

Focusing on Preparation

Onward Ho

Influencing the Pillars of Committment

Chapter 16: Making the Plan: Coaching For Development

Defining Development

Following the Yellow Brick Road when Developing for Growth

Oh No, A Personnel Problem: Coaching to Improve

Building on the Pillars of Commitment

Part VI : The Part of Tens

Chapter 17: Ten Coaching Myths

You Can’t Afford the Time to Coach

Coaching Is Only about Being Nice to Employees

Without Any Good Role Models, Coaching Won’t Work

Coaching Means Seeking Consensus on Every Decision You Make

If You Hire Good People, Coaching Isn’t Really Necessary

Employees Have to Ask for Coaching in Order to Be Receptive to It

Coaching Collaboratively Doesn’t Work When You Have a Disagreement

You Can Be An Effective Coach Even If You Lack Technical Competence in the Area You Manage

Coaching Involves Being Direct — People Don’t Like That

You Have to Be a Psychologist to Coach Employees

Chapter 18: Ten Skills That Strengthen Your Foundation for Coaching

Active Listening

Assertive Speaking

Time Management

Meeting Management and Facilitation

Change Management

Team Development

Problem Solving

Conflict Resolution

Project Management


Chapter 19: Ten Management Behaviors to Avoid

Talking too Much, Listening too Little

Being Hands-Off In Your Style

Hovering Around too Much

Not Following Through and Following Up

Focusing on Methods Rather Than Results

Managing Everyone the Same Way

Failing to Get to Know Your Employees Or Becoming Their Friends

Attending to Tasks Rather Than Goals

Failing to Bring Issues to Closure

Desiring to Do It All

Chapter 20: Ten (er, 50) Ways to Build Commitment through Coaching

Impacting the Focus Pillar of Commitment

Impacting the Involvement Pillar of Commitment

Impacting the Development Pillar of Commitment

Impacting the Gratitude Pillar of Commitment

Impacting the Pillar of Accountability


Walk into any bookstore today and you’ll see a large section of books under the topic of “management,” with titles that come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes, from leadership to time management. What you won’t see, however, are a lot of books that deal with coaching and mentoring employees. The ones you may see usually are by sports figures trying to pass on their nuggets of wisdom to the business world — yet many of these sports coaches or players don’t have any experience working in the business world.

But go back to the office and what do you hear?

bullet Your boss or some other senior manager telling you how you need to coach your employees so they know how to effectively perform their jobs

bullet Employees talking about how they wish they had managers who were mentors

What is everyone talking about and how do you learn to coach and mentor? You’ve probably seen many business books highlighting trends that turn out to be fads that come and go. Learning to coach as a manager, however, is here to stay. The demands to get top performance out of the staff you manage — the essence of what coaching focuses on — won’t go away in your lifetime.

Welcome to Coaching & Mentoring For Dummies. You’re about to read a management book that gives you the guidance as a manager to understand what coaching is — and how to do it well. It is a book that you can refer to time and time again for tips and ideas on how to get the best out of employees’ performances. And the approach of the book is fun and practical: You get an easy-to-read resource that provides you with how-to instruction.

About This Book

This book is written for managers of all levels. Some managers, often called supervisors, have responsibility for a few staff members in one functional group such as sales, accounting, and operations. Those called middle managers have responsibility for a few such groups or greater numbers in the same group. Executives, often with department head, director, or vice president titles, have responsibility for many groups in one overall department or for multiple functions and a few departments. Regardless of where you find yourself in these structures and what level of authority you carry, what you and other managers share in common is the responsibility for the performance of others.

Most managers know, regardless of their levels of experience, that the people-performance issues are the greatest challenges of the jobs. The secret to success in the job is to be able to multiply your effectiveness through others. You can’t do everything yourself as a manager. When your employees are performing effectively, you as a manager are doing your job. Coaching is the pathway for multiplying your effectiveness through others, for getting the best out of people’s performance. Managers who have discovered how to do this are in great demand in today’s business world.

This book provides the foundation for understanding what business coaching is all about and helps you gain or improve the coaching skills that drive employee performance and commitment. These skills, which serve as the main topics of the book, involve the following:

bullet Getting employees to deliver the results you need

bullet Guiding employees to think and do for themselves

bullet Motivating employees to take on responsibility and perform effectively

bullet Growing employee capabilities that lead to career development and success

If you’re a manager who’s in need of achieving these results, this book is for you. Whether you work in the public or private sector, chances are, you operate in an ever-changing, fast-paced environment. You probably face many challenges and pressures in doing your job as a manager, such as the following:

bullet Do more with fewer resources.

bullet Implement organizational and business changes.

bullet Find ways to increase efficiency and productivity.

bullet Meet greater customer expectations.

bullet Deliver results and retain good employees.

With these types of demands, developing your staff to be effective performers and to function self-sufficiently is the key to your success. Yet too many managers still operate in a task-focused or a must-maintain-control fashion. They manage in a way that hasn’t kept pace with the demands and changes that are upon them. They haven’t discovered how to multiply their effectiveness through others. They haven’t read Coaching & Mentoring For Dummies!

Conventions Used in This Book

Coaching, as defined in this book, has two aspects to it:

bullet It’s an approach to how someone functions in the role of being a manager. In the approach of managing as a coach, the manager operates as the leader, developer, and guide of the team and its individuals.

bullet It’s a set of management skills aimed at getting the most productivity out of employee performance. These skills or tools require hard work and often, a change in old habits, but they work.

Together, these two aspects of coaching give managers the best weapons to deliver results and positively influence employee commitment.

In the business world, the terms “coaching” and “mentoring” are often used synonymously. In this book, that’s not always the case. When you hear employees talk about wanting a manager who is a mentor, they are in essence talking about wanting a manager who carries on as a coach. They want a manager who cares about their development and who challenges them to grow and perform to their best — in brief, what managing as a coach means.

bullet Coaching is the sum of all the skills — the coaching skills of giving performance feedback, delegating, motivating employee performance, and so on.

bullet Mentoring is one set in the overall skills of coaching. It is a significant part of coaching and the set that focuses on guiding employees to do for themselves. Mentoring promotes self-development and self-sufficiency and is covered in detail in Part III of this book.

In addition, when discussing the skills of coaching throughout this book, I use the term “tools” to mean “skills.” Tools are handy ideas and practices that work and can be put into action. The skills of coaching explained in this book are such tools.

The book also talks about certain behaviors that are important for making coaching work: behaviors such as being assertive, leading by example, and listening. The book doesn’t suggest that a certain management style or personality style is what you need to be effective at coaching. You have to be able to work with people and build relationships with them to make coaching work, but no set style or personality exists as being the one for coaching success. Thank goodness! Coaching allows for diversity of styles.

Coaching does, however, advocate that you be flexible because you manage a variety of individuals with different needs and skill levels. Rigid, one-style-fits-all in how you manage staff doesn’t work well when coaching.

Foolish Assumptions

The book takes the assumption that you, as a reader, have a basic understanding of what the job of being manager entails. You have the responsibilities for business functions and for the performance of people, not just yourself. It assumes that managing and evaluating staff performance is a major part of your job, or you are someone who aspires to take on such responsibilities in your career one day. For a good reference to find out more about the functions of a management role, read Managing For Dummies by Bob Nelson and Peter Economy (IDG Books Worldwide, Inc.).

In addition, in this book, I steer clear of academic debates on the differences between management and leadership. Management positions are conventionally viewed as leadership roles. The book takes the assumption that effective leadership is part of being an effective manager. In simple terms, leadership is influencing others to achieve desired outcomes, and this is a critical part of what is needed to make coaching work.

How This Book Is Organized

This book flows from the conceptual to the practical. It first introduces the concept of coaching and the idea of building employee commitment — and how coaching is the best way to influence high levels of commitment.

The rest of the book gives the practical application of coaching, in which the skills of coaching are taught with examples of how to include them in your management practices. (The theme of how coaching influences employee commitment is carried through the rest of the book, however: Each coaching skill and how it impacts commitment is examined.)

The following sections provide a summary of what you’ll find in each section of the book.

Part I: Building Employee Commitment through Coaching

This part lays the conceptual foundation for the book. First, it defines what coaching means and why it’s important in today’s business environment. This part then introduces a management model to guide efforts for building high levels of employee commitment as well as the behaviors that managers need to coach and influence commitment.

This part also explores the issue of diversity, which became a critical management issue starting in the last few decades of the 20th century. It makes the connection between coaching and managing diversity.

Finally, before moving ahead into specific coaching tools, this part shows you how to manage your time and stay connected with your staff. Coaching takes place through two-way conversation and collaborative efforts, so that you have to take the time to work with people to coach them effectively.

Part II: Performance Coaching for Results

In this part, I explore three different coaching tools, all of which help you to focus employees and manage their performance to deliver quality results. This part begins with the skill of giving performance feedback through constructive feedback rather than through praise and criticism. From there, you practice setting goals and developing performance plans. Finally, you find out how to give periodic performance reviews that help you manage these plans, instead of waiting for an annual performance review to evaluate progress.

Part III: The Fine Art of Mentoring and Tutoring

This part explains what mentoring and tutoring are all about and defines the behaviors that comprise this significant coaching tool. It also helps you reflect on common management behaviors that have the opposite effect of what they want to achieve with employee performance — behaviors that stifle employee thinking and hinder employee responsibility.

This part also helps you hone one of the most sophisticated and powerful mentoring skills: tutoring with questions. Here, you understand how the power of questionning, far more than getting answers, helps you find ways for employees to perform self-sufficiently. The part closes by exploring the core of what mentoring involves: taking an interest in employees and guiding their development for top performance, referred to here as “taking employees under your wing.”

Part IV: Motivating and Empowering Your Staff

Empowerment, which has turned into a buzzword of sorts, is about giving people autonomy to do their jobs along with the support to do them well. Empowerment also holds employees accountable to deliver the proper results. To empower employees, you need to understand what makes them tick and what motivates them, which is covered in the first chapter in this part. This part goes on to provide practical strategies and skills that help you motivate employee performance to increase quality and assure commitment.

In this part, you also find out how to delegate in a way that empowers employees and produces good results at the same time. A five-step coaching tool is provided that helps ensure success.

Part V: Grooming and Growing Your Employees

Part V puts a heavy emphasis on coaching to help stimulate professional development and career growth for employees. It explains the message of career self-reliance and helps employees put this into practice for their own career resiliency and development.

The part also gives you tools to train employees when you need to give formal instruction and to best use others as resources to maximize training efforts. I also give you a tool that helps you focus employees on a path of development that often can bring career growth, and I touch on how to coach for improvement when performance isn’t at the level it needs to be.

Part VI: The Part of Tens

This fun part gives you summary tidbits and information that wrap up the book and help you understand the value of coaching. This information, given in pieces of ten, helps dispel the myths of coaching, lists skills to develop to support your foundation for effective coaching, and helps you review how coaching can positively impact employee commitment.

Icons Used in This Book

Throughout this book, you may notice small graphics in the margins, called icons, which are meant to grab your attention and support what you’re reading. Here are the ones you will see in this book.


This icon symbolizes practical tips, ideas, and strategies to make your coaching efforts work.


The example icon signals a real or made-up story that illustrates a point being discussed or highlights a manager’s experience with a coaching effort.


Pearls of wisdom are those “aha!” nuggets of information that are meant to stimulate thought and provide you with insight worth hanging onto.


This icon is a reminder of good ideas or points of information to use when you put coaching into practice.


This icon serves as a warning of what not to do in your behavior or management practices because they detract from your coaching effectively.

Where to Go from Here

The book is written so that each chapter stands on its own, so if you like to skip around when you read, you can do that with this book and not feel out of place. Occasionally, references are made to other chapters that you can turn back to if you need refreshing on a topic. You may, however, want to start with Chapters 1 and 2 because they give the conceptual foundation that the rest of the book builds upon.

Certainly, if you prefer the traditional flow of reading from start to finish, you’ll find that this book flows very nicely for you. Either way, enjoy!

Part I

Building Employee Commitment through Coaching


In this part . . .

A s you begin to coach, you need to understand what coaching means and recognize that the critical aim of coaching is to impact employees. This part gets you started.

Also in this part, you discover how coaching supports your efforts to manage diversity and how you can maximize your time when coaching your staff.