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What is mentoring? – According to the definition in oxford dictionary, mentoring is “the practice of helping and advising a less experienced person over a period of time, especially as part of a formal programme in a company, university, etc.” Therefore, mentoring is all about helping an individual to achieve their potential and providing guidance to set their career on right direction. Mentoring mainly involves a Mentor, a more experienced individual, providing mentoring services to a Mentee, an individual who is being guided and groomed.

Thing to remember is that the mentoring is not one-size-fits all program but a flexible arrangement between mentor and mentee, depending on each individual circumstances. The key to any successful mentoring arrangement is a trusting relationship where mentees can discuss issues and concerns in confidence, benefitting from their mentor’s advice and experience.

Are you ready to be a Mentor?
What makes an individual a good mentor is their experience, values, professional characteristics and a good solid foundation of self-knowledge. According to American Psychological Association, “A mentor is an individual with expertise who can help develop the career of a mentee. A mentor often has two primary functions for the mentee. The career-related function establishes the mentor as a coach who provides advice to enhance the mentee’s professional performance and development. The psychosocial function establishes the mentor as a role model and support system for the mentee. Both functions provide explicit and implicit lessons related to professional development as well as general work–life balance”.

Mentoring not just provide benefit to the Mentees but also has a wealth of advantage for Mentor including but not limited to:
• Development of leadership skills
• Enhancement of interpersonal and counselling skills
• Opportunity to learn new approaches and perspective
• Personal satisfaction of helping and guiding another individual
• Keeping abreast with developing issues and opportunities
• Widening of professional/community networks

“One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.” — John C. Maxwell

Are you ready to be a Mentee?
Since you are being coached and counselled, you need to be willing and open to learn. Mentoring is an opportunity for Mentee to gain valuable knowledge, skills and advice from a more experience person. Mentor provides tailored leadership to help your transition become significantly easier, your mentor will provide information on culture, attitudes and other non-tangibles that you’ll need to win in the long run.
According to American Psychological Association, “research has consistently found mentored individuals to be more satisfied and committed to their professions than non-mentored individuals (Wanberg, Welsh, & Hezlett, 2003). Furthermore, mentored individuals often earn higher performance evaluations, higher salaries, and faster career progress than non-mentored individuals”.

A good mentoring will certainly excel Mentee in their professional career advancement and at the same time it is an opportunity to:
• Develop communication skills
• Expand viewpoints
• Consider fresh ways of approaching situations
• Building personal and professional network
• Brainstorm ideas, communicate concerns and receive support

“Unless the mentee is real, the mentor ends up mentoring an imposter and it’s a waste of time for both.” — Lois Zachary, EdD

Readiness for being good Mentor & Mentee
Before the start of mentoring partnership, both Mentor and Mentee needs to undertake their own assessment as to their readiness including:

For Mentor:
• Do have necessary time available to provide mentoring to your Mentee?
• Your strength and weakness?
• Are you a good listener?
• How good are your communication skills?
• How flexible you are with your approach?
• Had you handle difficult situations, one which requires emotional intelligence
• How good you are in asking probing questions?
• Are you a high performer?
• Do you have passion to help others?

For Mentee:
• Are committed to put required time in getting mentored?
• Are ready to develop new skills & learn different perspective?
• Are you willing to be open and honest in your response?
• Are you happy in keeping your mind open and flexible?
• Do you see mentoring opportunity for personal growth as positive step?

Effective Mentoring Steps

Once, both Mentor and Mentee are ready to embark on mentioning partnership, the question is what to do next? There are generally five key steps involved in any mentoring process:

• Step 1: Preparing for getting started
• Step 3: Finding the right mentoring partner
• Step 4: Outlining the mentoring relationship
• Step 5: Mentoring process
• Step 6: Exist strategy

Step 1: Preparing for getting started
Mentoring relationship always starts with a solid foundation of self-knowledge, a clear focus, defined objectives, and the specific mentoring styles that are right for everyone. Whether a Mentee or Mentor, the more specific you are in defining what you want to accomplish via a mentoring relationship, the more effectively your outcome will be achieved.
Following are few thoughts to get you started. Identify 4 objectives which suits you well and redefine those to make sure that are more relevant to your need and situation:

My objectives are to (Mentee):
• Develop new technical talents
• Excel in communication skills
• Increase my networking capabilities
• Develop my skill as a leader
• Develop my interpersonal skills
• Refine my career goals
• Sharpen my presentational abilities
• Be a better negotiator
• Enhance time management skills

My objectives are to (Mentor):
• Increase my coaching abilities
• Keep in touch with burning issues and concerns
• Develop social contacts and skill set

Step 2: Finding the right mentoring partner
Finding a right mentor is important, as learning from someone who is more experienced and wiser in priceless. These individuals can be former bosses, former professors or teachers, co-workers in another department, or family friends. As you look, try to prioritize someone who can give you long-term advice about your industry and has a good idea of your own company and what it takes to advance within your role.
Bill Driscoll, a district president for Accountemps, said “Successful mentoring relationships happen when the mentor and mentee are the right match. Reach out to someone you think you are comfortable with, who can be a neutral sounding board, and [who] will also provide great advice.”

Having a right Mentee is equally crucial as having right Mentor. Potential Mentees can be:
• Outside your function or department
• Different from you and to whom you could offer new perspectives
• With reputations as continuous learners.
• The one who are committed to development – theirs and yours!

Step 3: Outlining the mentoring relationship
Like any partnership, a mentoring relationship is more likely to succeed if expectations and ground rules are agreed upon early in the relationship.

The few suggestion to outline mentoring program includes:
• Defining the goals of your mentoring relationship
• Deciding how often to meet, where and for how long
• Setting the agenda of each meeting
• Exchange CV’s with your mentee to stimulate discussion about career paths and possibilities
• Agreeing on mechanism for reviewing progress throughout the programme
• Share experiences of setting priorities, managing time, handling stress, and balancing workload effectively
• Discuss how to handle concerns, issues, or problem and what are appropriate ways to bring them up

Step 4: Mentoring process
A prerequisite to effective mentoring process is regular meetings. This will keep mentoring process on right path and more focused on your objectives. Regular meetings are vital and there is no alternate for face to face meetings.

Mentoring meetings
Meeting provides both mentor and mentee a platform to monitor progress, keep track on successes, and what steps each need to take. Mentoring meetings are an ongoing process, as your goals and objectives are likely to evolve over a few conversations.
There are certain points which needs to be assessed during the mentoring meetings and might include:
• What’s going well and what is not going so well
• What is required to be replaced, modified or altered
• How do we feel about the structure, format, activities of the mentoring activities?
• What other topics/activities would be useful and haven’t been tried
• Is there any other unidentified areas where the mentee still need guidance?

Step 5: Exit strategy
The end of the mentoring program is a normal and provides an opportunity from which both Mentor and Mentee can learn a great deal. The end of mentoring program does not mean that the Mentee and Mentor will have no further contact, it just means that the objective set for mentoring has been achieved. Again, the end of the mentoring program is an excellent opportunity to have a discussion about the experiences as a whole. The following may helpful debriefing points and can be include in planning for the last meeting:

• How was the mentoring experience?
• How effective was the relationship?
• Have you found mentoring program helpful?
• What would we have done differently?
• What difficulties you faced?
• What you liked most about the program?
• How will you apply your new skills?

Bottom Line

Mentoring is a very powerful tool and helpful tool. According to American Psychological Association, “Mentoring has long been recognized as a powerful tool in career development. Early career psychologists are advised to find mentors, either informally on their own, or to participate in formal mentoring programs. Regardless of how a mentor and mentee are matched, etiquette and ethics demand that the relationship be conducted in a professional manner with consideration and respect for both individuals.

Mentoring is a dynamic process and a developmental network of mentoring can help mentees identify several mentors who can address a variety of career-related needs. Successful mentorships often evolve into friendships with both partners learning and providing support for the other”.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is for information only and is not offered as an advice. Readers are encouraged to consult a suitably qualified professional adviser to obtain advice tailored to their specific requirement.

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