Mentoring is a relationship in which a senior manager in an organization assumes the responsibility for grooming a junior person. Technical, interpersonal and political skills are generally conveyed in such a relationship from the more experienced person. A Mentor is a teacher, spouse, counselor developer of skills and intellect, host, guide, exemplar and most importantly supporter and facilitates in the realization of the vision the young person (protégé) has about the kind of life he wants as an adult. The main objective of mentoring is to help an employee attain psychological maturity and effectiveness and get integrated with the organization. In a work situation such mentoring can take place at both formal and informal levels, depending on the prevailing work culture and the commitment from the top management. Formal mentoring can be very fruitful if the management invests time and money in such relationship building exercises. The important features / processes of mentoring are presented below:
Good mentors: (1) Listen and understand (2) Challenge and stimulate learning (3) Coach (4) Build self confidence (5) Provide wise counsel (6) Teach by example (7) Act as role model (8) Share experiences (9) Offer encouragement
Good mentees: (1) Listen (2) Act on Advice (3) Show commitments to learn (4) Check ego at the door (5) Ask for feedback (6) Are open minded (7) Are willing to change (8) Are proactive
Career functions: career functions are those aspects of the relationships that enhance career advancement. These include:
1) Sponsorship: Where mentors actively nominate a junior person called mentee for promotions or desirable positions.
2) Exposure and visibility: where mentors offer opportunities for mentees to interact with senior executives, demonstrate their abilities and exploit their potential
3) Coaching: Mentors help mentees to analyze how they are doing their work and to define and redefine their aspirations. Here mentors offer practical advice on how to accomplish objectives and gain recognition from others.
4) Protection: Mentors shield the junior person from harmful situations / seniors.
5) Challenging assignments: Mentors help mentees develop necessary competencies through challenging job assignments and appropriate feedback. Mentors create opportunities for their clients to prove their worth – to demonstrate clearly what they have to offer.
Psychological functions: Psychological functions are those aspects that enhance the mentee’s sense of competence and identify effectiveness in a professional role. These include:
1) Role modeling: Mentors offer mentees a pattern of values and behaviors to imitate.
2) Acceptance and confirmation; mentors offer support, guidance and encouragement to mentees so that they can solve the problems independently and gain confidence in course of time. Mentors also help people to learn about the organization’s culture and understand why things are done in certain ways.
3) Counseling: Mentors help mentees work out their personal problems, learn about what to do and what not to do, offer advice on what works and what doesn’t and do everything to demonstrate improved performance and prepare themselves for greater responsibility.
4) Friendship: Mentors offer practical help and support to mentees so that they can indulge in mutually satisfying social interactions (with peers, subordinates bosses and customers).
Merits and Demerits of mentoring:
1) There is an excellent opportunity to learn.
2) Constant guidance helps the mentee to be on track using facilities to good advantage.
1) It may create feelings of jealousy through continuous interaction among other workers who are not able to show equally good performances.
2) If mentors form overly strong bonds with trainees, unwarranted favoritism may result. This can have a demoralizing effect on other workers affecting their work performances in a negative way.