The Definition Of Mentoring And Why It Will Raise Your Game
There is a great deal of talk about mentors and about the benefits of mentoring, but is this influential and catalytic role really understood? The fact that the title ‘mentor’ is so often misused would suggest not.
What is also rarely explained, muddying the waters further, is the difference between coaches, managers and mentors.
“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.”
As someone who works as both a coach and a mentor, I take particular pride in the mentoring that I perform and in the game-changing benefits that both businesses and individuals experience as a result. It’s a privilege to engage with people in a relationship that spans both professional and personal development needs.
And in order to better explain the value in this, I thought it important to define the role of the mentor and to identify the benefits of engaging with this most trusted of advisors.
What Is Mentoring?
Mentoring is defined as a professional relationship in which an experienced person (the mentor) assists another (the mentee) in developing specific skills and knowledge that will enhance the less-experienced person’s professional and personal growth.
What Does A Mentor Do?
- Increases the knowledge of the mentee in specific areas
- Facilitates the mentee’s personal and professional growth by sharing resources and networks
- Challenges and encourages the mentee to move out of and beyond comfort zones
- Creates a safe learning environment for risk taking
- Focuses on the mentee’s total overall development
- Creates confidence and ownership to enable the mentee to become increasingly a solo-achiever, self-driven and self-sustaining
Is Coaching and Mentoring the Same Thing?
No, they are actually very different. People often confuse the two and, though related, they are not the same. A mentor may coach, but a coach is not a mentor. Coaching is a functional role, but mentoring is far more personal and is relationship based.
Characteristics of Coaching:
- Managers will generally coach as a requirement of their job
- Coaching usually takes place within the confines of a formal relationship
- It focuses on developing individuals within their current role or career type
- Coaching focuses on specific knowledge or skills only
- The relationship is relatively formal and is finite – it will end once the specific knowledge has been transferred
Characteristics of Mentoring:
- Mentoring takes place outside of the usual manager-employee structure and by mutual consent between the mentor and the mentee
- The relationship is far more informal
- The role of the mentor is more fluid than that of the coach – the mentor will listen to the mentee and build the relationship around the mentee’s development needs, whatever they may be
- The mentor focuses on the whole-career needs of the mentee
- The relationship crosses work boundaries and will cover any personal development required for professional success
- The relationship has no fixed end and the mentor is there for as long as the relationship continues to benefit the mentee
What are the Benefits of Mentoring?
Mentoring is a truly powerful experience and the benefits to the mentee are significant and wide-ranging. And because it is relationship-based and founded on trust, the results can go far beyond professional gain. Benefits will typically include:
- Enhanced commercial acumen and strategic focus
- Greater professional success and increased financial reward
- Improved self-discipline, time management and productivity
- Enhanced communication skills
- Ability to be more influential
- Greater negotiation skills
- More confident and accurate decision making
- Ability to create professional networks
- Adoption of specific knowledge and skills relevant to goals
- Greater self-confidence
- Ability to create and sustain better personal relationships and networks
- Increased consideration and objectiveness
- Increased satisfaction and contentment
- Less personal stress and improved health
- Improved lifestyle
“The best mentor is not the one who knows most, but the one who is most capable of reducing knowledge to that simple compound of the obvious and the wonderful.”
All of us, at some time in our lives, will be taught or coached, whether through a formal education system, within a workplace environment, or both. But the journey of a mentee is a rare experience and one that few are lucky enough to benefit from.
Find your mentor – it’s time to raise your game!
Dedicated to your success,
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