What Everybody Ought to Know About Mentoring

research and draft compiled by Rowena Enojo

article written by Wayne Brown

Mentoring and it’s origins…

To understand where the idea of mentoring originated, we need to look many years back from history. Being able to pinpoint where the concept really came from would help us understand why the practice of mentoring is widely used and practiced nowadays. Mentoring, which came from the root word Mentor, is also one of the character in the epic poem Homer’s Odyssey.

In the epic poem, the protagonist, Odysseus entrusts his young son Telemachus under the supervision of Mentor, Odysseus trusted friend. He did this because he was going to fight the Trojan War. Being away for many decades, Mentor was the one to support and nurture the young Telemachus.

In the 1699 novel entitled Les Adventures de Telemaque, French author Francois Fenelon proposed that Mentor was like a “guide and instructor” to the young Telemachus, but ultimately, Mentor acted like “another father” to the boy.

Historians link the common practice of mentoring in the Middle Ages. It is said that it was during the time of guilds and trade apprenticeships that young people were able to acquire technical skills which was often benefited from the support of more experienced and established professionals in their area.

It was not until the 1970’s that business people and other professionals began to recognize the significant role mentors play in the progress of corporation executives. Five decades later, mentoring has been progressively used in the workplace to help junior members of the staff to grow which would help a company grow as well.

Aim and objectives…

The aim of this article is to understand the practice of mentoring, benefits of mentoring, and how mentoring plays a vital role in the corporate world today. Here are some definition of mentoring according to the University of Cambridgehttps://www.ppd.admin.cam.ac.uk/:

“Mentoring is a system of semi-structured guidance whereby one person shares their knowledge, skills and experience to assist others to progress in their own lives and careers. Mentoring can be a short-term arrangement until the original reason for the partnership is fulfilled (or ceases), or it can last many years. Mentoring is more than ‘giving advice’, or passing on what your experience was in a particular area or situation. It’s about motivating and empowering the other person to identify their own issues and goals, and helping them to find ways of resolving or reaching them – not by doing it for them, or expecting them to ‘do it the way I did it’, but by understanding and respecting different ways of working. Mentoring is not counselling or therapy.”

Another great definition for mentoring is by the Association for Talent Development https://www.td.org/what-is-mentoring which states that

“Mentoring is a reciprocal and collaborative at-will relationship that most often occurs between a senior and junior employee for the purpose of the mentee’s growth, learning, and career development. Mentoring can be formal or informal. In an informal environment, mentees set goals, but they are usually not measurable and the relationships are unstructured. For a formal mentoring relationship, there are actionable and measurable goals defined and set with determined requirements.”

In mentorship, there are at least two people involved – the mentor and the mentee. The mentor, as stated by Merriam-Webster, is the one who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person. The mentor is usually on the giving end. The person who has more experience and is a trusted adviser. On the other hand, the mentee is the one to whom the teaching is given. The one being mentored. The mentee is the person who is advised, trained, or counseled by a trusted mentor.

First things first. Why mentor?…

Or why to look for a mentor? What’s in it for me? One reason is because engaging in a mentor-mentee relationship keeps our balance as we move along in life. All great and successful personalities had mentors and were mentees. To boldly say it, there is no such thing as the self-made man. One way or another, the influence of people they had in their lives played a significant role on their success.

Some mentor-mentee relationship include the most well-know people in history that changed the world. Socrates mentored Plato, Plato mentored Aristotle, Steve Jobs mentored Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffet mentored Bill Gates, and the list goes on. It may not always be the case but most often than not, a mentee that has been mentored will in turn become a mentor to another person as well. The cycle continues. This is a beautiful display of humanity in a sense where, “I have been helped. It is also up to me to help others as well.” Paying it forward as they often say it.

Now, what are the benefits that I can get on being mentored? What’s in it for me as a mentee? Obviously, there are tons! Here are some of the benefits of being a mentee:

  • You gain practical advice, encouragement, and support. Sometimes, when problems or situations overwhelm us, it is very hard to see beyond the circumstance. Having a mentor not only accompany us during the process, a mentor also helps us rise even better after the situation. Having someone to see and think more objectively helps us move forward in life.
  • Learn from the experiences of others. There is no manual or step-by-step guide on how to be successful in life but learning from the experience of a mentor is beneficial to a mentee. Mistakes, as much as they are part of the success of a person, can sometimes be irreversible. Mitigating these kinds of mistakes by learning from a more experienced individual would contribute largely to the mentee’s success.
  • Increase your social and academic confidence. Having a network of people is one of the skills in life that is not being taught in schools, universities, and institutions. Having a large network of people is a hard thing to do. A mentor would be of much help to introduce you to more people, both inside and outside your field, and in any case would be a great opportunity for the mentee to grow and learn even more.
  • Become more empowered to make decisions. Having a mentor that empowers you to make calculated decision would be a boost in confidence. Not only does a mentee have someone who presents to him/her the risks and benefits of a decision, a mentee also has a mentor who can be there for him/her when a roadblock occurs. Sometimes, people only need a little bit of push before they can make that leap of faith. Having a mentor is like jumping on that edge of the bridge with a parachute.
  • Develop your communication, study and personal skills.  A good mentor can both show you the nitty-gritty ways to develop these skills that worked for them, but a good mentor can also show you the best way on how you can develop these skills. A good mentor does not ultimately duplicates himself/herself in another person, but they also help their mentee reach their fullest potential.
  • Identify goals and establish a sense of direction. Nowadays, one of the most pressing problem of younger people is committing to something. It is not ultimately their fault but living in a world where there are so many options makes it harder to pick a cause, a person, an event, an advocacy, and a goal to commit to. Having a mentor can lay down all of the choices for the mentee and show the mentee each path’s downside and benefits. This makes choosing a lot easier.
The greatest feeling of contribution

One thing’s for sure. A mentee who looks for a mentor has nothing to lose and everything to gain. It is obvious that mentees benefit largely in this mentor-mentee relationship. How about the mentors? What’s in it for them? Why mentor anyway? Would it just be a waste of my time, talent, and treasure? Well, mentorship benefits the mentor as much as it benefits the mentee. Here are some of the benefits of being a mentor:

  • Improve communication and personal skills. Let’s face it. There are many brilliant people in their respective fields but when it comes to teaching the thing they’re good at to other people, that’s where it gets difficult. True mastery regarding a certain field entails that an expert can flawlessly teach it to other people. You really know what you are talking about if you can teach it to others and they can understand it.
  • Develop leadership and management qualities. Since a mentor will be working with, most of the time, a younger or junior associate, this skill is obvious. The more a mentor is challenged on being able to handle another person or different kind of people, then the quality of the mentor’s leadership and management skills grows.
  • Increase your confidence and motivation. One of the qualities of a good mentor is not asking anything in return to his/her mentee. Mentoring is so beneficial that a mentor gains something back even if he/she doesn’t intend to. Being able to guide another person and see them doing better is really a boost in confidence. Having said this, a mentor would be motivated to be better. As the saying goes, “If you want to learn something, teach it to other people.” This way, as the mentee gets better, so does the mentor.
  • Engage in a volunteering opportunity, valued by employers. The best thing about being a mentor is that it comes from a person’s willingness to give. A person’s willingness to extend himself/herself for the benefit of other people. This is such a noble task because not everyone has this kind of mindset. Others prefer to monopolize knowledge, wisdom, and ideas. 21st century learning now focuses on collaboration rather than competition. Most of the successful companies collaborate with other companies to present the best product that the consumers need. As it is with these companies, so it is in the level of mentor-mentee relationship. There is no other way but up.
  • Increase your circle of friends. As the mentee’s network naturally expand, so does the mentor’s network. A good mentor is aware that every time a learning opportunity arises, it is not only the mentee who benefits, the mentor benefits as well. The mentor may find that his/her mentee’s network would come in handy for future plans. This is not always the case, but hey, at least you gain friends.
  • Gain recognition for your skills and experience. Now, this one right here is really just a bonus when it comes to mentoring. A good mentor knows that his/her success as a mentor is not based on trophies and awards. The success lies on whether you made the life of another person better. A good mentor would most of the time want to be on the background and would be very happy just witnessing the growth of his/her mentee. Also, the mentorship would be a success if this mentee now decides to be a mentor himself/herself and pass on the things he/she learned. This would cause a ripple effect meaning more lives touched and changed for the better. Now that’s true success right there.

Having laid out the personal benefits in terms of mentors and mentees, this gives us a sense that when individuals are able to achieve their peak performance, then it directly affects their performance at work as well. Better individuals working effectively and efficiently for the success of the company.

Initiating a mentorship program…

Initiating a mentorship program in a company shows that this company cares about its employees. When there is a mentoring program present in a company, then junior associates and new employees have an option to learn from those more senior. There will also be a more engaged workforce. With the mentors leading the way and supporting the mentees the ways of the company, it would be easier for these mentees to become an asset of the business.

A mentorship program would also provide a high satisfaction rate to almost all employees inside a company because opportunity to grow, learn, and climb the corporate ladder is readily available. It decreases the employee turnover and leads to higher job satisfaction. When people are satisfied in a company, it is guaranteed that they will become the next leaders that will help the business flourish in the future.

When this culture of mentorship becomes present in a company, it will be attractive for new talents to join the team. One of the things that millennials seek on a job is not just whether the salary is high or not, more often, these young people search for value and meaning. A company that offers a mentorship program would inevitably cater to these needs.

At the end of the day, the practice of mentorship can only be possible if there is a mentor who is willing to spend his/her time, talent, and treasure to help another person become the best version of himself/herself. The hope is that this mentee becomes a mentor for the cycle to continue. Then this cycle would create a better practice of mentoring that will ultimately lead a company to greater heights. The practice of mentoring is one of the surest way to success.

A mentoring program greatly enhances the well-being of the entire company

References

Association for Talent Development. (n.d.). What is Mentoring? Retrieved April 28, 2020,

Aston University. (n.d.). Benefits of Mentoring. Retrieved April 28, 2020

Gover, I. (2019, February 13). 7 Amazing Ways Mentoring Can Benefit Your Organization. Retrieved April 25, 2020

Howard, L. (2018, May 11). The Benefits of Being a Mentor. Retrieved April 25, 2020

Levine, T. (2018, November 19). Mentee: The Benefits of Being One and the Benefits of Having One. Retrieved April 25, 2020

Power, R. (2020, February 6). 3 Reasons Your Company Needs a Mentoring Program. Retrieved April 25, 2020

PUSHfar. (n.d.). 15 Famous Mentoring Relationships & How to Find a Mentor. Retrieved April 25, 2020

The Open University. (n.d.). Exploring career mentoring and coaching. Retrieved April 25, 2020

University of Cambridge. (n.d.). What is mentoring? | Personal and Professional Development. Retrieved April 25, 2020

Category: Leading 4 Execs

This is a new series which looks at some of the fundamental practices & skills required of todays leader. We hope you enjoy this enlightening array of articles.

NEXT UP: PRACTICING EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

Until then, take care and bye for now. Wayne

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