Thursday, November 02, 2017

Mentor and Coach

Remember the list of behavior changes you made?

There were two parts:

  1. Identify desired behaviors
  2. Identify undesired behaviors

During that process, I asked you to identify substitute behaviors.

Substituting one behavior for another is more comfortable than removing a behavior altogether.

People will find substitute activities anyway. You might as well leverage that.


Behavior change is uncomfortable.

Think about when you last tried to “stop” doing something.

Hard, isn’t it?

I find that I am much more successful when I have a “replacement” behavior that fills the gap.


I am working on reducing my coffee consumption.  As of this writing, I’m down to 2 cups a day – most days.

The days I am successful, it is because I have access to hot tea.

Tea-drinking serves as an excellent replacement behavior for coffee-drinking because:

  1. I like hot tea, and I often drink coffee to stay warm vs. any desire for coffee itself
  2. There is a little bit of caffeine, so I don’t trigger the caffeine withdrawal headache

Eventually, I will “rip off the band-aid” and eliminate coffee from my diet.

When I am ready, I will find a mentor/coach.  Ideally, this mentor is someone who has been through this change before and currently models the behaviors I wish to adopt.

In this example, that means I am looking for a person who:

  1. Used to be a die-hard coffee drinker
  2. No longer drinks coffee
  3. Has substituted coffee with a healthier beverage (i.e., NOT someone who replaced coffee with 10 Diet Cokes per day)

The ideal mentor, for me, is someone who understands the struggle of changing that particular behavior.

Someone who is introspective and honest enough with themselves to be able to identify and share where they ran into difficulty.

Someone who I can relate to. If my mentor could do it, I can too.

Having this mentor provides a behavioral model and individual accountability.

This mentor asks questions when I slip and when I succeed.

What is working?  What isn’t? When do you struggle? When is it easy?

The accountability and encouragement of reflection help the change stick; even if it takes a few tries.


You can use this same process with organizational change.

Encourage the individuals who have successfully embodied the change to mentor others.

Provide support, training, and rewards for this mentorship.

Celebrate successful mentoring. Who have the mentors influenced?

For your part, listen when people tell you of their struggles to change.

Where are they struggling? How can you support them?

Use “just suck it up” sparingly.

Your people will notice the disconnect if the change doesn’t impact you or your work.

Your best people won’t tolerate it.


Resources – Amazon Affiliate Links

The Heart of Coaching: Using Transformational Coaching to Create a High-Performance Coaching Culture

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