Mentorship is considered an important training and development tool in the academic literature (Hunt and Michael, 1983; Kram, 1985a), and is present as a formal programme in many companies (Burke and McKeen, 1989; Klauss, 1981; Kram, 1985b). It has recently been prominent in the popular literature as well (Bartlett, 1995; Burgess, 1994; Colborn, 1992). Having a mentor has been linked to mobility and career advancement (Clawson, 1979; Jennings, 1971; Kram, 1985a; 1985b; Phillips-Jones, 1982; Scandura, 1992; Stumpf and London, 1981) and may be even more important for women and minorities (Colborn, 1992; Kanter, 1977; Morrison et al., 1987). Additionally, mentoring has been distinguished as different from typical superior-subordinate relationships (Burke et al., 1991) and as being composed of a number of different career-enhancing functions such as coaching, sponsorship, facilitating exposure and offering protection (Kram and Isabella, 1985).
Many companies, Coca-Cola Foods among them, have invested their resources in the development of formal programmes designed to promote mentoring relationships (Burke and McKeen, 1989) as part of their human resource development strategy. The purpose of this paper is to describe Coca-Cola Foods' mentoring and coaching programmes and to present directions for future research and practice based on the Coca-Cola Foods' example.
Coca-Cola Foods believes that human resource development (HRD) is a key to building competitive advantage through people and to the creation of a high-performing organization. The struggle at Coca-Cola Foods has been to maximize and/or optimize HRD's contribution to business success. The approach at Coca-Cola Foods has been threefold:
1 to strengthen the link between business strategy and developmental focus;
2 to involve leadership of the organization in all aspects of development;
3 to use a variety of developmental tools to match personal and organizational needs better.
For the purpose of this article, we will focus primarily on the mentoring and coaching processes which Coca-Cola Foods uses to develop their people. These developmental "tools" clearly involve leaders in the organization which helps considerably to strengthen the link between development and business strategy.
Coca-Cola Foods views coaching as an interaction that has the purpose of enhancing performance. By providing goals, techniques, practice and feedback, the coach helps the person increase competence and the probability of success. Coaching can occur down the hierarchy, up it or laterally. In coaching, the relationship is not of utmost importance, rather the agreement that the coaching is valuable is the critical element.
Mentoring, on the other hand, achieves its purposes primarily through building a relationship. The mentor is usually someone "higher" up in the organization, someone who has experience and knowledge about "who's who", "what's what", and "how" things get done. It is a formal relationship structured around the developmental needs of the "mentee". In most cases, the mentor and mentee are from different departments so that there are no direct reporting relationships involved.
The processes Coca-Cola Foods uses for facilitating mentoring and coaching in the organization are very different, as are the goals and outcomes expected. We will review each …