4th International Academic Conference on Teaching, Learning and Education
Berlin, Germany March 11-13, 2022
LAB ICT HERON
Dr. Panagiotis Tzavaras1, and Ph.D. Candidate Athanasios Davalas2
1European University of Cyprus, Department of Business Administration
2University of the Aegean, Department of Information and Communication Systems Engineering
Mentoring And Coaching In The Digital Era And How Has Been Affected By Covid-19
One of the instant increases in coaching and mentoring has been apparent in last years, indicating the improved interest in several development aspects. This development concerns all sectors of the economy and society, such as education, health, entrepreneurship. The focus was on actions to enhance efficiency through development, mainly for the labor sector. Mentoring and coaching are now integral parts of educational life and vocational training, with the ultimate goal of the multifaceted development of those employed in various professions.
This article was written during the Covid-19 pandemic to study the impact of the pandemic on the digital age and coaching and mentoring processes. The research data have emerged from recent studies, with full knowledge of the prevailing situation, including all problems and uncertainties. As we face the immense business interruptions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, coaching and mentoring play a significant role in maintaining employees motivated and determined during extraordinary times.
Keywords: Mentoring, coaching, digital era, Covid- 19 pandemic, effectiveness, development
JEL classifications: M12, M14, M19, O15
Coaching and mentoring seem to be indispensable functions of the professional training and growth of employees, which aims to clearly noteworthy developments and high skilled staff and commonly emphasizes precise goals and skills; but may also affect some of the individual\’s features such as self-assurance and social communication. Coaching and mentoring are growth practices based on the use of one-to-one negotiations to improve an individual\’s skills, experience, or work execution.
The Covid-19 pandemic has played and continues to play a key role in the smooth running of the various activities of daily living. Employees in every field, now more than ever, need support and guidance to believe in their own strengths and overcome external difficulties with greater efficiency and effectiveness. This article was written during the Covid-19 pandemic to study the impact of the pandemic on the digital age and coaching and mentoring processes.
2. Literature Review
Coaching is a form of personal or professional development in which a person called a coach provides support, animation, and know-how to individuals in order to achieve a specific personal or professional goal. Coaching is a method of communication, lifestyle, and behavior, which, if applied to all aspects of personal and professional life, has excellent results (Serrat, 2010).
The goal of coaching is through a specific scientific methodology, such as through open-ended questions, reality recognition, and motivation, to lead the client to answer their questions, to determine course and actions, and to achieve change and who really wants to be. Coaching is a process of self-improvement. It is the unlocking of the possibilities that the person has to get where he wants, quickly and immediately (Renton, 2009).
Mentoring is a collaborative relationship between two people, which allows the exchange of experiences, views, information, and practical advice for a specific field of employment or activity. It is a relationship that strengthens and develops the feeling of self-confidence, enhancing the professional and personal skills of both parties. Mentoring is used to help individuals grow and develop and lasts for a set period of time. Mentoring offers practical tips that demystify difficulties and create conditions for growth and progress. Mentoring is confidential, collaborative, and helpful (Renton, 2009).
Mentoring presupposes the will on the part of both the mentor and the mentee to develop and continuously cultivate a relationship of good communication, trust, and respect with cumulative positive results. Mentors often act as sounding boards for mentees or as role models who provide inspiration. Mentoring has been shown to have significant impacts on personal growth, career guidance, career choice, and study productivity.
2.3 Mentoring vs. Coaching
Although the two terms are often confused, coaching and mentoring differ significantly. One could identify three main features in which these two processes differ. The first characteristic in which they differ is the origin as the coach is a professional who comes mainly outside the company and has received clearly specialized training to guide the executives with whom he works. The mentor, on the other hand, is usually a senior executive of the company with several years of professional work experience (Kenworthy, 2015).
Coaching focuses on the development of skills and development of the individual, but without having a specific object on which the whole process will be built. Aims several times to improve communication, collaboration, mobilization, and leadership skills. Instead, mentoring focuses on a specific subject such as marketing, financially as it is a transfer of experience that the mentor has in a specific area.
Mentoring is based on the transmission of knowledge that comes from the experience of the mentor. In the case of coaching, evolution is based on a process of an internal change of the individual. The prerequisite here for evolution and development is considered the reconciliation of the individual with himself so that he is able, through his own personal abilities, to determine the solutions and his overall path to achieve the goals that have been set (Kenworthy, 2015).
Figure 1: Reasons for choosing coaching/ mentoring practices
Source: (Mentor, 2020)
2.4 Coaching and Mentoring in Digital Era
2.4.1 Long-Distance Mentoring and Coaching
According to a 2004 survey by the Society of General Internal Medicine Annual Meeting, 67% of participants participated in a distance coaching / mentoring program using state-of-the-art technology. In fact, from this research, it was found that 79% of the participants treated the examined sessions as less efficient than the coaching / mentoring sessions with personal contact.
Long-distanced sessions, however, have significant advantages, such as saving time and travel costs, better program management, and taking on more responsibilities at the same time. Disadvantages include difficulty in finding common time, limited direct observation, techniques that may arise, reduced commitment (Ambrose, 2003).
Coaching / mentoring via email or telephone can, however, work well in simple cases, where brief communication and general information is needed, which can happen with mentoring. These two tools cannot work in cases of critical feedback or commentary on the knowledge, skills, abilities, attitudes, beliefs, and behavior of the other, as in cases of coaching. Email communication can often be responsible for misinterpretations of meanings and often make it difficult to develop a more personal relationship, where there will be trust, respect, and deep and meaningful communication, which are essential for an effective relationship in coaching in particular, but also in mentoring, too (Schichtel, 2009).
2.4.2 Video Conferencing
Video conferencing offers the important advantage that by utilizing technological means, the participants can be given the flexibility of time, planning, transportation costs, distance, ease of access. On the other hand, any difficulties that may arise, such as technical problems (computer failure, poor connection), the difficulty of developing a relationship of trust without physical presence, issues of privacy and confidentiality, cannot be ignored.
Despite the disadvantages, video conferencing is a worthy substitute for physical coaching and mentoring meetings, which in other cases could not take place. Video conferencing via Skype/ Zoom offers possible solutions to some of these problems. Participants are allowed to communicate both audio and video, seeing the mentor or coach face to face, which helps to form a relationship with greater confidence and security (Purcel, 2004).
To collect research data, the method of systematic literature review and meta-analysis was applied. The meta-analysis contributes so that through the study of the research, it is possible to carry out a result related to the issue of the researched research in order to be utilized by future research. Meta-analysis is done through the systematic review of articles and is one of the most important research practices that exist.
For the integration of the available articles, which exist in the international bibliography, in the systematic study, a systematic process of finding articles through electronic databases was applied. The ones that were used are Google Scholar, Scribd, Elsevier, Academia.
The Covid-19 pandemic has managed to affect every area of business, and not only life and operation. Working conditions have changed, with teleworking being the predominant option. The distance imposed, in addition, as a health measure significantly affected the conduct of conferences, seminars, and other educational activities. The coaching & mentoring branches could not be unaffected by the new living conditions.
4.1 Effects on Mentoring
The emergence and spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 negatively affected every area of professional and business activity, including mentoring practices. However, this industry has succeeded and responded with relative adaptability and speed, acting with innovation managing to cope relatively satisfactorily with the health crisis and the needs it has created, with increased support and utilization of new technology, which has paved the way for some mentoring relationships that under different circumstances could not keep in touch.
According to the literature review, only 1/3 of the cases claim that the Covid-19 pandemic had a positive effect on mentoring as new digital support methods were developed. In fact, 1 in 5 mentors says they spend more time on mentoring sessions with pandemics and lockdowns, offering more support than ever before. The results of the literature study show that the digital media that were most in-demand in mentoring were video conferencing and telephone interfaces. In fact, 50% of those who used video conferencing say that it proved to be extremely effective for both parties (Palmer et al., 2020).
Figure 2: Impact of the pandemic on mentoring relationships
Source: (Mentor, 2020)
However, there is a smaller percentage who report that the pandemic affected mentoring negatively due to cancellations of programs and meetings, which reached 29%. One in five cases reported interrupting mentoring sessions due to social distance regulations, uncertainty, and a number of other challenges. In these cases, 65% of mentoring programs were canceled due to the pandemic, 30% were canceled due to financial obligations caused by the pandemic. The challenge, however, was not only economic. Mentoring programs were asked to modify their methods to adapt to a digital learning and work environment, resulting in a lack of trust and insecurity in the relationship with the mentor without the physical presence (IFW, 2020).
Other challenges that arose were the digital divide of the relationship mentoring participants and their ability to move in a virtual work and learning environment. It is estimated from the literature that approximately 57% manage to maintain regular attendance at mentoring sessions successfully. Another challenge is the existence of a home internet connection and an electronic device that responds to video conferencing (EMCC, 2020).
As a result of these challenges, the digital media most used for mentoring video conferencing were Zoom, FaceTime, Skype.
Figure 3: How mentored stayed in touch with mentored during the pandemic
4.2 Effects on Coaching
The challenges that followed the Covid-19 pandemic could not help but affect the relationship between coach and coachee. With the pandemic, it was more important than ever for coaches to delve into empathy, opening up new avenues in the coaching relationship, to deal effectively with the highly stressful aspects of the pandemic, which often exceeded even the skills of the coach himself, but also of the coachee (CIPD 2020; EMCC, 2020; Grant, 2020).
Coaching sessions were found to be extremely useful during pandemics and especially lockdowns, as mental support and guidance were extremely useful in managing the complexity of the new reality and managing stress. The coaching sessions managed to respond flexibly to the challenges presented but also to the gaps created by the pandemic. According to Tamiolaki & Kalaitzaki (2020), although conditions have become quite complex, coaching has helped to boost growth through innovation, which has led to basic financial security in the midst of the pandemic, helping both professionals and individuals to meet the needs of the new era (IFW, 2020).
The coaches applied new ways of guiding, utilizing the technological means, in combination with the experience they possessed. Besides, the health crisis had a \”positive\” effect on coaching. The prevailing turmoil, uncertainty, new living conditions, the need for support for more competition in order to remain at the forefront have led to an increase in demand for coaching (Fleisher et al., 2020; EMCC, 2020). The need to form a relationship that will fill the gaps in the lockdown led to coaching teleconferences. The positive response received by this project led coaches to find the mood and motivation to solve any challenges caused by the pandemic. In fact, according to the literature, it turned out that the possibility of online interaction improved the relationship between the two parties due to the intensification of meetings (Jackson & Bourne, 2020).
Figure 4: Effectiveness of coaches and mentors through pandemic
Source: (Mentor, 2020)
This research emphasizes the importance of the role of coaching & mentoring practices, clarifying the terms individually and highlighting the usefulness of each at a different level. Also, this research showed that despite the adversities of the Covid-19 pandemic period, coaching & mentoring practices could give positive results, utilizing modern technological means. After the study above, we assumed that organizations with more capable coaches and mentors would have a greater influence on performance, emphasizing the importance of both practices. Also, even organizations that have not yet invested in coaching & mentoring practices will realize the importance of this investment for the future of the organization and the consistent profitability of the organization and its employees, individually.
The cooperative and mutual nature of video conferences in real time helped both sides to be innovative and grow their mentorship and coaching skills. As Palloff & Pratt (1999) define, \”collaborative learning that allows sharing of ideas among the students is very important in forming the foundation of a learning community\” (pp. 29). The coaches and mentors found the flexibility of joining the program combining other responsibilities as a benefit. Participants from all over the world, without even the same time zone, took part, and it was convenient for all of the participants. Teleconferencing helped to maintain a stable relationship between coach/mentor and trainee, creating conditions of security and trust. The coaches offered ongoing support and critical feedback. The mentees gain from the mentor\’s knowledge and skills, and the mentors improve their teaching and leadership skills as they guide the mentees. There was a comfortable and goal-oriented environment where the coaches/mentor\’s provided guidance.
The pandemic brought new working conditions to the fore: remote work more competition. Businesses can take advantage of new conditions by investing in coaching & mentoring practices by utilizing technology and tools that make even teleconferencing an effective practice.
Strongly contemplate maintaining with coaching and mentoring even during and after the pandemic. In any case, when performed well, coaching and mentoring are excellent communication methods at a time when more communication is necessary. During a crisis like Covid-19, organizations and individuals have a bigger demand to know they are appreciated and have an opportunity to share their worries and anxieties. Additionally, coaching and mentoring can be outstanding examples of teaching key skills on a just-in-time basis- skills that might be challenging if not impractical to teach via eLearning or other traditional programs.
Control virtual and remote technologies. Virtual technologies offer a platform for coaches and mentors to connect with employees anywhere in the world at lower cost and safer connections. Related tech-based programs that can assist mentoring and coaching may include evaluations, as well as tools that measure progress against goals and emphasize learning/ career growth content. Furthermore, employers will gradually force AI to meet employee needs and career goals with \”automated\” and tailored mentoring/ coaching content.
Mentoring for achievement. Managers often jump into a mentoring role when an employee could have handled a task or assignment in a better way. While this is an important reason to guide, it is immediate. Leaders should be promoted to guide those with high ability and those confronting challenges such as new jobs. The goal is to be preemptive in helping individuals to succeed.
Invest in creating coaches and mentors. Within an organization, coaches and mentors must utilize skills in thoughtful listening, generating perceptions, and guiding rather than speaking. Don\’t suppose these skills come easily or all at once. Businesses with more efficient mentors and coaches are also more likely to prepare coaches and mentors.
Set in coaching and mentoring in business culture. When there are businesses with groups of efficient coaches and mentors, they can easily be discovered a strong coaching/ mentoring culture. Individuals create such a culture by setting a high effort on mutual trust, establishing honesty to feedback from the top-down and bottom-up, accepting those that excel at coaching and mentoring, and learning from both mistakes and successes. A sign of a strong culture is managers and leaders who are constantly engaged in coaching or mentoring techniques. It is one of their most important roles, and lack of time is no more than a justification.
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