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Mentoring

What is it?

One to One accompaniment and conversation between two people with different experiences, perspectives agree to have conversations in which they exchange insights, information and understanding in service of the learning and development of another.

 

How it works

Mentoring has traditionally  involved more experienced and skilled individuals providing help, challenge and support to counterparts that are less knowledgeable, skilled or experienced in a particular domain. Increasingly it is recognised that mentoring need not be one-way only. Indeed, the best most productive mentoring relationships are reported to be those where the mentor and mentee roles can be reversed, and a form of mutual learning and exchange takes place.

Mentees and mentors benefit from receiving useful, timely, challenging and life changing mentoring. Mentees are able to ask / confront “difficult” or “taboo” questions in a confidential setting, getting the benefit of forthright views and opinions which may be less forthcoming within their working environments or organisations.

When mentoring is working well it is carefully matched, properly contracted, and purposefully engaged with.

While offering no guarantees to the mentee about any particular progress towards a goal or outcome. Mentoring can be of tremendous support if it can:

  • be present when most needed
  • respectfully disturb any sense of entitlement, unacknowledged mediocrity, prejudicial assumption and premature comfort
  • be appropriately relational – growing and transforming both mentor and mentee,
  • seek to open up opportunities and possibilities – transforming awareness of self and possible prospects.

Mentors draw on their experience, professional knowledge and areas of study and developed skills and processes to engage the mentee in a process of dialogue and exchange that is both informal (relaxed – any questions can be asked – no specific structure has to be followed in a session) and formal (the sessions take place over an agreed time and over a specified period. The mentee may be asked / expected to take actions / follow up on specific points arising as a result of the mentoring)