- What is Mentoring?
According to the International Mentoring Association, mentoring is composed of:
- A series of tasks that effective mentors must do to promote the professional development of others.
- The low-risk relationship within which the partners can try new ways of working and relating, make mistakes, gain feedback, accept challenges, and learn in front of each other.
- The complex, developmental process that mentors use to support and guide their protégé through the necessary career transitions that are a part of learning how to be an effective, reflective professional, and a career-long learner.
An effective mentor guides the mentee by providing support and advice. The main role of a mentor is to share their career experience and challenge you to think through issues to find the best path. A mentor helps you identify strengths, weaknesses, career paths, create contacts and set goals. It is a long lasting, trusting relationship. It can happen at any point in someone’s career but the wisdom that is imparted is retained through life. Being a mentor can be a rewarding and positive experience.
A mentor does:
- Become your personal advocate.
- Offers encouragement and advice.
- Share their experience and mistakes.
- Helps you set goals.
- Helps you see the bigger picture.
A mentor does not:
- Tell you how to do things.
- Tell you to do something you don’t want to do.
- Become your personal therapist.
- Become a coach for mundane tasks.
Before a mentor and mentee begin their relationship, certain guidelines should be set for both parties to know the boundaries of their relationship. Having a set of roles and responsibilities so everyone will know what is expected of them.
For a mentee, having a mentor to model, saves you from making certain mistakes in your career journey. A mentor can help you with your vision, set goals and even give you “shortcuts” that they did not have. Having a mentor does not mean having someone tell you what to do every step of the way, but gives you the encouragement to take on any challenge.
A mentee should:
- Be open to criticism.
- Be considerate of feedback.
- Make the effort to listen.
- Stay professional.
As a mentee, you should be an attentive listener and learn what you can from the experience of others. Realize you shouldn’t abuse the relationship with unreasonable expectations. Commit to following through the goals you have set and to discuss the development with your mentor. Show that you value the mentor’s support by doing your diligence.
In truth, everyone should have a mentor. Industry changes, procedures change; no matter how far you are in your career, you can always learn something new. The positive impact a mentor will have on you, can inspire you to help shape the next generation. When we help others learn and grow, we grow.
2. Setting up A Mentorship system
It takes a lot of effort, time, and money to set up a mentorship system. There is overhead and cost to maintain a mentoring program, mentor matching, and policing; and a lot of staff time and resources without a guarantee of engagement or value with members. Some programs may not give mentors the tools or training they need to be good mentors, or are unattached and lose momentum. Sometimes a mentoring program is more hassle than it’s worth. And failing mentoring programs can affect your organization many years later.
At Sengii, our recommendation to clients who ask about mentoring options for their members, is to clearly define the purpose of the program. Most times, the easiest route is to already use the tools you have in your online community. Our simple and low maintenance mentorship approach is to create a discussion group where mentors and mentees can come together online to help each other.
As Sengii’s CEO Nick Bott likes to call it, “the wisdom of crowds”. The collective opinions, questions and answers, where everyone can pitch in, is a much simpler and cost effective solution.
This alternative takes the pressure off from matching people and trying to keep a program running. In reality, operating a mentoring program takes a lot of time and budget to try to get it “right.” This way people don’t have to wait for one person to counsel them, but can have more diversity in answers and advice. Also, by using the online community all members can have the support they deserve and access whenever they need it.