What is Mentoring?

Making mentoring work for you

Coaching and mentoring are techniques and tools used to develop people at work. They are both based on the use of one-to-one discussions and focused guidance in order to enhance the skills, knowledge or work performance of a person.

Although the two approaches are often viewed as being similar there are still noteworthy differences between the two. Here, we will focus specifically on the process of mentoring.

What is mentoring?

Mentoring is the relationship between two people in or outside of the workplace, devised to provide unbiased, friendly support in order to improve. Typically a more experienced colleague uses their greater knowledge and understanding of the work (or workplace) to support the development of another member of staff. This is usually in an advisory capacity and tends not to be the immediate line manager of the employee.

Mentoring relationships are voluntary on both sides and involve the use of skills such as questioning, listening, clarifying and reframing (those associated with coaching).

Mentoring relationships tend to be over a long term and are often formed as a result of an organisational succession planning exercise or from an appraisal process. However, mentoring can indeed start at any time.

The idea and ethos behind the mentoring relationship is that the mentor wishes to pass on some of what they have already learned so far to somebody else who will benefit from their knowledge and experience. The person receiving the advice and guidance is usually seeking to develop and progress, or learn a new experience.

Mentoring within Business

Mentoring programmes within businesses can be formal (planned, arranged and monitored via the organisation), however less formal mentoring relationships can also work just as well.

Making time for the individual is a critical part of the mentoring process. Setting regular one-to-one catch up sessions/informal chats should be encouraged – otherwise the relationship will not develop. Having these discussions away from the workplace and any distractions is also a good idea.

Selecting the right mentor for the employee is key; not only should they be a suitable role model but they should also possess good people skills and be the right ‘fit’ to the individual. Trust and honesty is crucial within a mentoring relationship.

Good mentors should:

  • Offer an outside perspective to a situation, as well as impartial, honest guidance.
  • Listen, in confidence, to any concerns or worries, whilst acting professionally. They should be considerate and understanding.
  • Help and assist the employee by providing real-life examples and sharing their own experiences of both failure and successes.
  • Give out friendly, unbiased support and guidance, as well as constructive feedback.
  • Act as a sounding board for ideas and help the individual to make plans for further progression and development.
  • Offer ongoing support and encouragement.

A good mentor will have superb listening skills and the ability to inspire the employee. In addition they will support and advise them in setting appropriate workplace goals and have methods of assessing progress in relation to these goals.

Organisations that openly encourage and support work-place mentoring help to promote increased employee job satisfaction, improved communication channels and, in turn, better efficiency.

A large proportion of the most successful leaders within business will have had a mentor at some point in their career, many will state that this was essential to their success. Learning from

If your business doesn’t provide a mentor programme, or if you would prefer to find a mentor outside of your working environment there are lots of great schemes out there that can help match you with a mentor. Do some research and look into which association or individual may be right for you before embarking on any scheme.

Mentoring and collaboration should be important components of your evolving Learning Management System. Does your LMS track these social and non-formal interventions that help build your employees careers?
If not give us a call or pop us an email so we can show you how Coaching, Mentoring and Supervisions is built into our LMS structure.

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