Tuesday, 7 April 2015

#TuesdayTRIOS - 3 Things you need to know about Mentoring

This month I want to devote my #TuesdayTRIOS to a topic that is extremely dear to me…Mentoring!
Mentoring is now one of the most commonly used tools for entrepreneurship, on-the-job learning, youth employment, women’s empowerment and employees’ engagement….and the list could go on.  But it was not always like that and I believe that many people still struggle to understand how mentoring could help them and their organisation. So today I wish to focus on three things you need to know about mentoring , to ensure that you understand what mentoring is all about and why mentoring can benefit both individuals and organisations.

#1 Mentoring is NOT coaching and is NOT counselling and is NOT training…but at times can incorporate elements of the above. Traditionally mentoring is a one to one holistic relationship focussed on helping individuals grow, mostly on a personal level. The mentor is then understood as somebody wiser, perhaps senior in age to the mentee, because he/she needs to ‘show the rope’. Now a day, the mentor is somebody who can help in a specific area, being the personal or professional sphere. The mentor might have a specific knowledge, or background or experience that is helpful to the mentee at a certain time. The mentor may or may not be older than the mentee, but the mentor has often achieved a certain status or position or role or has gone through a certain experience (e.g. maternity, changing job, re-training, moving to a different country etc) the mentee wishes to know about. I have experienced long tem as well short-term relationships. Sometimes the mentee gets everything he/she needs to know in a call. Sometimes the relationship lasts a number of years…or a lifetime!    

#2 Mentoring can take you from GOOD to GREAT.  Mentoring is at heart an empowering tool that enables individuals to tap into their potential and achieve their best. Mentoring should never be seen as remedial or ‘gap-filling’. Even when the mentor provides knowledge based support, it is more about what you can do with that knowledge than the knowledge itself. It is about exploring, discovering and taking responsibility for the actions that follow, and ensuring that actions always follow from your mentoring conversations!
Mentoring is also about having the opportunity to ‘blue-sky’ in total confidence and safety. In a mentoring relationship mentees should feel free to ask any questions, think beyond limitations and boundaries and deploy all kinds of scenarios. It is often from these apparently ‘impossible’ discussions that very ‘possible’ ideas begin to emerge.

#3 Mentoring comes in many shapes and forms. Traditionally Mentoring is a face to face and one to one relationship. But having mentored hundreds of individuals I know that this is no longer the only way. Telephone and skype are all very easily used in mentoring so you can be on the other side of the world and still make it happen.  In-fact this flexibility works very well for example for women with childcare needs as they can talk to their mentor at times to suit their family needs. As well as one to one mentoring, facilitated peer- and group mentoring can work very well with groups within companies when a group has a common interest or purpose. The advantage in this case is that participants learn from each others as well as from mentors  and for those who find the one to one relationship slightly daunting, this can be an easier way to benefit from mentoring and begin to appreciate its value without feeling ‘ under the spot light’. 

Whichever way you look at it, mentoring is hugely beneficial to individuals and to teams. Whether your purpose is performance, engagement or empowerment, mentoring can support your aims!

If you want to know more about mentoring, or how I might be able to help your organisation in setting up a mentoring programme please get in touch!     

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