In a nutshell, mentoring is a process of using individuals who have had special training to provide guidance, pragmatic advice, and ongoing support in order to help the person or persons who have been assigned to them develop and learn. In contrast to coaching, which is a relatively directive approach to enhancing the competence of individuals, the use of mentoring can be regarded as a way of helping people learn.
As with any job, mentoring involves learning on the job, which is always the best method of acquiring the specific skills and knowledge that the job holder needs in order to be successful at their job. Additionally, it complements formal training by providing employees who benefit from it with individual guidance from those who are experienced managers who have a solid understanding of the ways of the organization and are ‘wise in their ways’.
The following are some of the benefits that mentors provide:
Assistance in drafting self-development plans or learning contracts;
Providing general assistance with learning programs;
Assistance in acquiring the necessary knowledge and skills;
Provide advice on handling any administrative, technical, or people issues individuals encounter in their early careers;
How things are done in the company – corporate culture, specific skills coaching; how things are done around here;
Provide assistance in tackling projects – by pointing them in the right direction rather than doing the work for them; help people to be able to help themselves;
A supportive parental figure is someone who is able to listen to someone’s aspirations and concerns, as well as lend a sympathetic ear to the difficulties that individuals are facing.
A mentor is someone who is likely to be able to provide non-directive, but supportive assistance to the individual or individuals with whom he or she is working. In order for them to effectively perform their duties, they need to be briefed and trained accordingly. In some cases, you may be asked to act as a mentor and you should receive guidance on what that entails as a manager. As a last resort, if you think there is an individual in your sector who needs assistance, you could ask an organizational mentor to assist you.
As an alternative to mentoring, one of the ways in which you can implement mentoring within your department is to engage in what is sometimes referred to in the US as ‘buddying’. In this case, you will need to appoint someone in your department or team to be responsible for looking after newcomers, ensuring that they get the guidance and assistance they need to settle in as quickly as possible.