In the workplace, it is important to provide support for employees with dyslexia to ensure they can perform to the best of their abilities. One effective way to provide this support is through mentoring and coaching. This two-part blog post will explore the differences between mentoring and coaching, and provide suggestions for different approaches and considerations for each type of support.
The Difference Between Mentoring and Coaching
Training and teaching are task-focused and usually short-term in the workplace. Coaching, on the other hand, involves an experienced expert using their knowledge and skills in the field of dyslexia to support and train individuals to develop specific skills or achieve professional goals. In contrast, mentoring is more informal, unstructured, and untargeted. Mentors discuss issues with mentees and provide ongoing support throughout the term of their employment.
A dyslexia coach is someone with specific knowledge and skills in the field of dyslexia who can support and train individuals to develop specific skills. Coaching programs for employees with dyslexia typically run for a specified length of time, while mentoring can be ongoing. A one-to-one coaching program for an employee with dyslexia usually takes around 10 or more hour-long sessions over several months.
A dyslexia coach is often recommended as part of a Workplace Assessment for individuals who are having specific difficulties due to their dyslexia. While some larger organizations may have a qualified dyslexia coach as part of their occupational health team, a dyslexia coach is typically sought from outside the organization. A qualified Workplace Dyslexia Specialist who is registered with one of the three main dyslexia bodies in the UK is usually the best choice. These include:
Access to Work frequently fully funds dyslexia coaches. If an application is made to Access to Work, a funding award for training can be claimed from a choice of suppliers.
While a dyslexia assessment report covers an individual’s areas of strength and difficulty, a workplace assessment investigates these areas specifically in relation to the person’s current job role. When working with a dyslexia coach, they usually start by identifying specific goals for the coaching program. Before starting the program, the coach will review the person’s job description to understand the requirements of their role. During the first meeting, the coach will encourage the person to discuss their work and specific challenges they are experiencing.
During the initial meeting, goals are usually set for the remainder of the coaching program. Goal setting for a coaching program is a collaborative process where the employee with dyslexia discusses their long-term aspirations as well as shorter-term, more job-specific goals. Additionally, they may identify areas they want to improve or develop in relation to their personal lives.
Considerations for Dyslexia Coaching
There are several considerations to keep in mind when working with a dyslexia coach. Firstly, it is essential to identify the areas in which an individual needs support. This can be done through an initial consultation or a Workplace Assessment. Additionally, it is important to ensure that the coach has experience working with dyslexia and is a qualified specialist in the field.
It is also crucial to ensure that the coaching program is tailored to the individual’s specific needs. This means setting goals that are relevant to their job role and aspirations, and taking into account any personal circumstances that may impact their ability to participate in the coaching program.
Finally, it is important to ensure that the coaching program is delivered in a supportive and positive environment. Dyslexia can be a challenging condition to live with, and individuals with dyslexia may have experienced negative experiences in the past. A coach who is empathic to a person’s needs is crucial.
The Role of a Dyslexia Coach
The primary role of a dyslexia coach is to provide guidance and support to individuals with dyslexia. By helping them understand their diagnosis and providing strategies to cope with their difficulties, coaches can empower individuals to unlock their potential and achieve their goals.
One of the first things a coach will do is explain the details and technical language of the diagnosis report in terms that the individual can understand. This can be incredibly helpful, as many individuals with dyslexia are not aware of the specific strengths and weaknesses associated with their condition.
In addition, coaches will also work with individuals to identify coping strategies that they may already be using to manage their work and personal lives. These strategies may be automatic, and the individual may not even realize they are using them. By identifying successful coping strategies, coaches can help individuals recognize their strengths and build on them.
For example, while dyslexia is typically associated with literacy-based difficulties, individuals may also struggle with reading comprehension, processing and retaining information, and other challenges related to the workplace. A coach can provide strategies such as allowing extra time to process information or teaching techniques for skim reading and scanning for key information.
Moreover, coaches will tailor their strategies to the specific work tasks of each individual. While some individuals with dyslexia may struggle with reading, writing, or math, others may experience low self-esteem or a negative self-concept due to setbacks experienced in the past. Coaches can work with these individuals to overcome these challenges and encourage them to try new things and take on new challenges.
However, it’s important to note that these “finding out sessions” can sometimes be emotional for individuals with dyslexia. They may experience a range of emotions, including regret, remorse, anger, and general upset, or even optimism by finding out more about the difficulties they’ve experienced throughout their lives. An experienced coach will have a comprehensive understanding of the impact that these difficulties can have on a person’s life and will approach these sessions with care and sensitivity.
Organisational Coaching Development
In addition to working with individuals, dyslexia coaches can also work with organizations to ensure that they have a dyslexia-friendly workplace. These coaches, often referred to as Senior Workplace Associates, are experts in dyslexia and have worked with a variety of organizations in different fields.
Their role is to review the current processes within the organization and recommend changes that can make the workplace more accessible for individuals with dyslexia. This is especially important for organizations that want to comply with the Equalities Act (2010) and ensure that they are providing equal opportunities to all their employees.
These changes may include providing assistive technology, offering training and support to managers and employees, and ensuring that workplace policies and procedures are accessible to all. By working with dyslexia coaches, organizations can create a more inclusive workplace that benefits everyone.
Further support – Counselling
In some instances, it might be the case that the person with dyslexia has been traumatised and needs further specialist emotional support from a professional such as a counsellor. Whist such support can be accessed both privately or through the NHS via a GP, there are also some online resources.
Another approach that some counsellors may use is neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). This is a structured approach to communication, personal development, and psychotherapy. It aims to challenge negative perceptions that people have about their abilities or the environment surrounding them and reframing these in a more positive context, to build self-esteem. Further information on NLP can be found at: https://nlp4kids.org/
To read the first part of this article, click here: https://www.dyslexiauk.co.uk/dyslexia-mentoring-and-coaching-at-work-part-1/
For more information on workplace assessments, read this post: https://www.dyslexiauk.co.uk/workplace-assessments/
To read about Dyslexia in the Workplace: Challenges and Strategies, click here: https://www.dyslexiauk.co.uk/dyslexia-in-the-workplace-challenges-and-strategies/
To speak to a dyslexia assessor, contact us: https://www.dyslexiauk.co.uk/#request-form