What is Mentoring?
Is mentoring a fad or here to stay as a valuable organizational development strategy?
87% of businesses in the UK utilised mentoring according to a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Survey (1999), (Klasen and Clutterbuck 2002)
This trend has continued, however some organizations call mentoring interventions “coaching” to appear leading edge, but that is a piece for another article.
Mentoring in a business sense is a vehicle for self development. Having a formal/ official relationship with a respected senior within an industry or organization is valuable to both the mentee and mentor, and had advantages to the organization in that it is an effective people development strategy and one that can support succession plans.
Mentoring is in essence the sharing of experience and learning from one person to another. Working on the learning needs and agenda of the mentee – not that of the organization (in the short term).
It is interesting to observe that often in education mentoring is used for those that are under performing, whilst in business mentoring is used for those with potential – the high fliers in an organization or for supporting people starting their own business.
Two schools of thought on mentoring
There are in essence two basic approaches to mentoring and how it is best applied.
- Mentoring should be structured or developmental for example a formal, facilitated process that can be managed and monitored
- Mentoring can only occur naturally, that is an informal process which involves individual choice like sponsoring
These two differing approaches can be portrayed as the American and the European methods or sponsoring (informal) and developmental (formal).
The informal approach is more associated with the roots of mentoring, emphasises the need of a more senior, experienced and wiser person, “the mentor”, to pass down their skills, knowledge and experience to a younger individual appropriately named as a protégé rather than a mentee. The relationship between mentor and protégé is naturally developed often by choice of how and whom the mentor wishes to take under their wing. The pace of the relationship is controlled by the mentor and consists of a more authoritarian and influential approach.
Some quotes and definitions from well known people and places on mentoring:
Mentoring is one of the best methods to enhance individuals’ learning and development in all walks of life – Klasen and Clutterbuck
There is considerable confusion over what mentoring is and is not. – Clutterbuck
Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximise their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be. – Eric Parsloe, The Oxford School of Coaching & Mentoring
Mentoring is unique in its place as a method of supporting people in learning and career development in that it does not exclude other methods, but exists alongside them, complementing them and adding value. – Lewis
Mentorship refers to a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. The receiver of mentorship was traditionally referred to as a protégé, or apprentice but with the institutionalization of mentoring the more neutral word “mentee” was invented and is widely used today. – Wikipedia March 2010
“A mentor is a couple of steps down the path you wish to travel and is close enough to say, ‘I was where you are now…you can be where I am now.’” – Forbes
Some Mentoring Quotes:
- Be the change you want to see in the world. – Gandhi
- Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction. – John Crosby
- We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give. – Winston Churchill
- Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person. – Mother Teresa
- Because there is a larger awareness that transcends time and space, an awareness is available after death. –
- One thing I know; the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve. -Albert Schweitzer
- One of things I keep learning is that the secret of being happy is doing things for other people. – Dick Gregory
- You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
- I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou
- The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. – Helen Keller
- In every art beginners must start with models of those who have practised the same art before them. And it is not only a matter of looking at the drawings, paintings, musical compositions, and poems that have been and are being created; it is a matter of being drawn into the individual work of art, of realizing that it has been made by a real human being, and trying to discover the secret of its creation. – Ruth Whitman
Some useful references:
ALRED, G., GARVEY, B. and SMITH, R (1998) Mentoring pocketbook. Alresford: Management Pocketbooks.
CLUTTERBUCK, D. (2004) Everyone needs a mentor: fostering talent in your organisation. 4th ed. London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development