Mentoring and mentor seem to be the new key word or flavour of the year but in actuality it has been here for many eras, starting with the Greeks to current times.
What truly is mentoring you may ask and if searching you may find a few different definitions. My understanding of mentoring is the following:
Mentoring is a mutual professional relationship that is developed between two consenting individuals. The mentor and the mentee or protégé build a trust between each other and discuss not only professional goals, aspirations but can also discuss personal goals, dreams and obstacles.
Mentoring creates a great trusted environment where based on trust a mentee can ask questions, seek guidance and also speak freely without the fear of being judged.
The goal of mentoring should be focused on professional and personal growth of the mentee. The amount of growth that will occur will all depend on the mentee as he or she will also need to be committed to ensure they are actually learning and growing from the experience.
It is vital that before introducing a mentorship program within your organization you understand the actual process and commitment involved in such a program.
A mentorship program is not something you can buy off the shelf and just install it into your organization.
A few things to consider about a mentorship program are:
- Ensure you have commitment from the top to support it: If senior management believe in it, they will push and support the roll out of the program and sell it to the organization
- You need to ensure you build a trusted environment and create a mentoring culture: Culture is created by the people in your environment, it is important that everyone understands the roles, the purpose of the program and the guidelines. The more knowledge people have the more empowered and included they feel with the process.
- Do not use direct reporting relationships to design the mentor/mentee relationship: Many organizations mix coaching with mentoring and create an environment set up to fail. A true Mentor/Mentee relationship should not be between any manager and his direct report. The biggest reason is because no matter how much trust is built between the two, a mentee will always hesitate to share their complete honesty or uncertainty on decisions, issues etc., due to the fear they may have of being judged as weak, not as smart or fear of losing their job.
- Ensure the mentor and the mentee receive training on their roles and the commitment involved: this will ensure there no unclear objectives or undelivered expectations from both sides
I have personally started the journey of mentoring by becoming a mentee and look forward to the rewarding journey. There is a lot of information out and I encourage readers to read and learn the great rewards, benefits and supporting culture a mentoring program can instill in your organization.
Aman Randhawa is a mother of three, and an HR professional with over 10 years of experience in the field. She is passionate about people and thus thoroughly enjoys the HR profession. This is her debut blog and she hopes to bring her unique perspective to many more future blogs!