Tag Archives: Coach Mentor or Both

Coach, Mentor or Both?

This question came up on the recent Vet Your Life Webinar and follows on nicely from my last blog. I hadn’t really given it much thought until someone asked the question “what’s the difference between a coach and a mentor?”

Coaching is aimed at getting us to work out what we want and how we’re going to achieve it. The important thing to know is that a coach won’t tell you the answers. I can remember coaching sessions where my coach just kept asking me questions, challenging me to come up with the answers and I sat there blankly, desperate for her to tell me what I should do! Sometimes it would be a week later before I had that light bulb moment and knew what the answer was.

For me coaching was really tough, I hated not having the answers straight away. If I relate this to my riding I have always loved training with instructors who tell me what I need to do, it fills me with confidence and if I am doubting my own ability gives me the kick up the backside to just get on with it. But the very word ‘instructor’ implies there is quite a difference between the ‘coaches’ that we are seeing teaching now, many of whom have come through the UKCC accredited system and the instructors who came through the traditional BHS exams.

A mentor on the other hand by definition is someone who gives a lesser experienced or younger person help and advice over a period of time. Years ago when Hugh was locuming down in the south of England I met his then Practice Manager. We stayed in touch and over the years she has become a both a friend and a mentor to me. What she doesn’t know isn’t worth knowing and no matter how busy she is I can send her an email or pick up the phone and she will always offer me some pearls of wisdom. A couple of years ago I spent a couple of days shadowing her and I can honestly say I learnt more in that two days than I had learnt in the last two years.

I would love to see a proper structured mentoring system in place for those of us working in veterinary management positions. So often it is the time spent over lunch at CPD meetings where we learn the most, discussing our struggles and how we overcome them. I think practice managers can feel quite isolated at times as you are the one member of the team who doesn’t have their own team to fit into. There is usually a vet team, nursing team, an admin team, and probably some directors but it the PM who is responsible for keeping everyone happy.

So in answer to my question, coach, mentor or both I would definitely say both….. BUT be ready to dig deep in finding your own answers with your coach and make sure you are willing to listen and accept some tough love once in a while from your mentor!