Mentoring has many definitions, a simple description is that it is the process of an informal transmission of knowledge, social and sometimes psychological support relevant to work and professional development between a person who is perceived to have greater knowledge or experience in an area and a person who has less. Mentorship is the relationship between the mentor and the mentee and is based on communication and mutual understanding. It is the learning and development partnership between someone with broad experience and someone who wants to learn.
Who is a mentor and who a mentee?
A mentor is the person with more experience or more knowledge in an area of expertise who is willing to convey his/her knowledge (i.e. the mentor) to persons who wish to learn. A mentor may be older or younger of age than the person being mentored. The mentee on the other hand is the person in receipt of mentorship who wishes to learn (i.e. the mentee).
How does Mentoring differ from Coaching?
Both mentoring and coaching share the same key characteristics, nonetheless mentoring and coaching vary. Mentoring is a learning relationship focused on long term career development, for the personal growth, building skills, knowledge and understanding by the recipient. Whereas coaching is the process to improve performance of the recipient by working from the inner self in order to unlock his/hers potential. Mentors may use coaching skills in their conversations, but usually the mentor role is wider than that. A mentor will make connections and share experience and network in order to support the mentee.
Why is mentorship important?
Mentoring is appropriate for increasing employee retention, facilitating cultural and organisational diversity in a company. It can be used to support induction programs, so that participants get the most they can from their involvement. Mentoring can also be used to encourage ethical behaviour within an organisation. Finally, on a non-corporate side, mentoring can be a key approach for development of young individuals, promoting discussion, building trust and exploring one person’s potential.
Written by: Eirini Christodoulou