Do Coaching & Mentoring improve profit?

by Ron Vaughan of Barnes Kavelle

Copyright Barnes Kavelle

The response from the Barnes Kavelle coaching and mentoring team would be an emphatic "yes" - but we would say that, wouldn't we?

There is, however, considerable evidence accumulated over more than ten years in the UK, and even longer in the USA, that coaching and mentoring improve the performance of individual managers, their teams and thereby, the overall business. In addition to our specific case histories, there have been numerous surveys which demonstrate the positive impact of these services on both the individual and the company.

In a survey by the Industrial Society published in 1999 covering more than 300 companies, over 80% reported that coaching and mentoring had improved the achievement of individual performance targets and goals. It is not surprising, therefore, that most of the respondents planned to increase the use of coaching. The proportion of companies using coaching had in fact already risen from one-third in 1996 to two-thirds in 1999.

It would be interesting to examine some of the factors contributing to this growth - but first let us consider the differences between coaching and mentoring.


Both mentoring and coaching have been practised for many hundreds of years but it is within the business environment that there are diverse views as to their scope and benefits.

We believe that the services are complementary as both are based on a blend of internal and external relationships that will enable the recipient to:

  • Enhance skills
  • Develop at both a professional and personal level
  • Assimilate knowledge and learning techniques

There is no common definition, but we regard the main differences to be:

Coaching: Focuses on achieving specific objectives usually within a preferred time period

Mentoring: Follows an open and evolving agenda and deals with a range of issues

Why the high growth rate?

A client described recently the factors that are fuelling the rapid growth in coaching and mentoring: "We are being asked to deliver increased profits, higher quality products, cope with fierce competition and implement change programmes - all with fewer resources. We have to demonstrate to our management team that we will support their efforts, individually and collectively".

This picture is typical of many organisations in all sectors of the UK economy where we have flatter, leaner structures that offer little further scope for rationalisation. It is vital that management teams are equipped with the necessary skills and feel sufficiently motivated to drive their teams to achieve challenging performance and financial targets.

Managers are required to fulfil a broader more versatile role ranging from possessing the vision to develop strategy; a hands-on style to keep on top of operational issues; leadership skills to build teams and so on. It is not surprising therefore that individuals and teams have gaps in their skills base and development needs, many of which can be met by coaching and mentoring.

Our Approach

In each client situation, our approach is to meet the individual and often quite diverse needs of each executive. At the same time we are trying to assist the development of a cohesive team that can meet the challenges and changes facing the business.

Whilst there are key stages that most assignments cover we believe it is essential that our work is moulded to address the personal and professional issues of each executive. There is, therefore, considerable variation in the pace and content of each assignment.

Of critical importance is the relationship between consultant and executive. In coaching and mentoring, the executive must feel comfortable with the "chemistry blend" and also be confident that the consultant has the requisite skills and experience to make a significant contribution without taking control.

The Future

Coaching and mentoring are now well established in the UK and are being used effectively in a wide range or organisations and applications including:

  • Leadership skills
  • Team development
  • Re-engineering
  • Changes in structure and culture
  • Improving communication
  • Relationship issues
  • Preparation for a new role
  • Managing projects
  • Integrating new managers
  • Stress management
  • Independent sounding-board

Some of our clients have blended coaching and mentoring within performance management systems but others prefer to respond to specific needs.

The key issue is that tangible improvements in performance are being achieved along with many other benefits including greater awareness, open communication and mutual understanding.

For more information contact Stuart Esworthy at