Definition of Mentoring:
Mentoring is a professional (or personal) relationship wherein the experienced mentor offers expertise and guidance to the new colleague. The idea is to not correct these protegees when they go wrong, but to show them the right path and shape their career. They help the employees to get a sense of the organization’s culture and values. It is not just about creating good employees, it is about creating the next generation of leaders for your company.
What can a Mentor do?
A mentor plays multiple roles in the protegees life. It is a long term relationship where the mentor offers help and advice on the job, provides coaching and feedback, and supports the protegee in the time of need. To discuss in detail;
- They provide exposure and visibility to the new employee in the organization.
- They coach their protegee, let them know about new opportunities and skills they need to update themselves with.
- They offer guidance, constructive criticism, feedback and suggestions important for the protegee’s growth.
- They become a role model for their protegees, by sharing their experiences and wisdom that helped them succeed.
- They offer support in the times of need, help them handle disappointments at work and celebrate their triumphs. They protect their protegees from challenging situations, at the same time, guide them on how to handle it better next time.
Difference between a Mentor and a Coach
While mentoring and coaching are helpful in their own ways, the difference lies in the nature of the relationship.
Mentorship is a long-term relationship where the focus is on the overall career and personality growth of the protegee. Mentors offer wisdom and guidance that can help not just with job, but can help them become leaders.
Coaching is a short-term relationship where the focus is on building the topical expertise of the employee. Coaching comprises identifying the employees' strengths and weaknesses, offering course correction and testing their performance. Once the employee gains expertise on the said topic, the relationship ceases to exist.
How to mentor effectively at work?
Mentoring is an effective way of building leaders for tomorrow. Here are some tips that will help you build a great mentorship with your protegee:
- Have clarity on what your responsibilities are, particularly so if you are not the employee's manager.
- Discuss with your protegee and identify the goals you are going to help them achieve. It is okay if the path they choose is not the path you charted for them. Nevertheless, see how you can help them and set realistic goals.
- Be a good listener. Understand their aspirations and give them the space to ask difficult questions. Give them the space and confidence to approach you whenever they need help.
- Let them know you can help them. While you can help them get the visibility and exposure they need, make it known that you will not be using your influence or doing favours.
- Set realistic goals and set deadlines for them. This will help you measure the progress and offer guidance accordingly.
- Don’t compromise on quality. Set clear expectations on the commitment you seek from their end. Decide a pace for them, and help them expand their learning by giving minor challenges.
- Offer constructive feedback and protect them from professional errors and missteps. Even if they make a mistake, motivate them, and help them see how they could have done it better. Help them learn from their experience.
- Remember, the purpose is to empower your protegee and show them how to lead. In that process, it is important that they learn to become independent.