What makes a good coaching or mentoring relationship

If a coaching or mentoring relationship is going to work well, both parties must trust each other enough to be able to speak openly. The coachee/mentee needs to feel that it is safe for them to share their internal thoughts and feelings, and also that the coach/mentor is there to support and encourage them as they explore their internal world at a depth they might otherwise never have the courage to reach.

A useful concept for the coaching relationship is the 3+1 Cs model. The first three Cs are:

  • Closeness (trust, mutual respect and regard, goodwill, the sense of safety in each other’s company and so on)
  • Commitment (developing a strong, enduring and motivating working alliance)
  • Complementarity (collaboration within clearly defined roles).

The fourth C is Co-orientation – built on open and honest conversation, on genuine dialogue rather than just discussion or debate, and on knowing that there is no sense of being judged by the other person.

The model provides a practical framework for reviewing a coaching or mentoring relationship. Both coach/mentor and coachee/mentee can reflect on the relationship so far and score it out of 5 on each of the for Cs. Sharing their scores provides valuable information for a conversation looking at the relationship itself and for determining how to make it even stronger.

© David Clutterbuck, 2017

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