Mentoring is a special, personalized form of education.
It is a means of developing employees at any level within an organization, specific discipline, professional role, organizational culture or job function. There are many examples of mentoring in business, industry and education. Here are a few of the more familiar examples: In certain professions, mentoring is the method by which professionals learn about the practical side of their discipline. The medical profession has long utilized the basic premise of mentoring in its highly formalized internship programs for training new physicians and other health care professionals. Many other professions use formats similar to mentoring in their formal apprenticeships. They use one-on-one training to introduce new personnel to a field or discipline, e.g., — flight training, — performing and fine arts, and building trades. There are many examples of mentoring around you. Think about the people who have acted as mentors to you.
In a business environment, mentoring might be best explained in this way:
It is a process of transferring and exchanging information between a mentor and mentee, as they develop a supportive relationship over an extended period of time.
- The Definitions of Mentor and Mentee
- The Mentor is considered the more mature, experienced or knowledgeable person in the learning partnership. Sometimes mentors are peers of the mentee.
- The Mentee is anyone in partnership with a mentor who seeks to grow through receiving information, being counseled, coached and advised.
- The Roles of Mentor and Mentee
- The roles are actually interchangeable. Learning takes place for both parties.
- Mentees have the task of designing their career path and goals.
- Mentors supply their expertise and experience in accordance with the needs and goals of the mentee.
- Each party in the partnership is responsible for keeping the relationship vital and confidential
- What do partners do?
- Discussion: Mentors and Mentees discuss experiences, ask questions, provide feedback, and use each other as sounding boards for a wide variety of work and career issues.
- Shared Activities: Mentors and Mentees can attend meetings, conferences, and other company sponsored events together.
- Observation: Mentoring partnerships observe each other at specific tasks, and provide commentary and feedback.
- How do partners Grow?
- For Mentees–Gain first-hand knowledge from individuals who are experienced in the field and have demonstrated competence in their profession:
- Work on developmental issues in a very focused way by being coached, getting feedback, and solving problems
- Understand the perspectives and thinking patterns of people in another discipline, line of the business, or level
- Have a Sounding Board in a confidential relationship to discuss new ideas and innovations
- For Mentors–Use their accumulated experience, knowledge and expertise to develop others:
- Broaden their scope of contact beyond their peers, direct reports and present line of business
- Learn the perspectives and critical life issues of those who are culturally different
- Develop greater facility with coaching, feedback, cross-cultural communication, and advising
- Mentoring Myths and Misconceptions
- Mentoring is only for High Potentials
- Mentoring is only for slow or troubled employees
- Mentoring is best performed by one’s boss
- Mentors pick their mentees and not the reverse
- Having a mentor is a sure-fire way to move up the corporate ladder
- A mentor will sponsor you for better jobs
- Mentors can protect you from lay-offs and disciplinary action
For answers to these Myths and Misconceptions, see Chapter III. Mentoring Across Differences: Dialogues that Create Inclusion, 2008)