What is mentoring in the workplace?

In a nutshell, mentoring is when an experienced professional within a company is paired with a newcomer. The relationship fosters a collaborative learning experience where both parties benefit. Mentoring is often used as a method of career development to help new employees transition into their roles and gain valuable skills likely to lead to success in the position. It can also be used to look for leadership training programs to groom potential candidates for promotions.

Who Mentors Whom?

Mentorship may be offered by either party depending on the needs of both participants. Some mentors are assigned to their mentees while others volunteer, or even hired, for this role . The mentor-mentee partnership is customarily designed to be a two-way street; the mentor and mentee should each offer something of value during their interactions. Typically, experienced individuals within an organization will volunteer for this position. They may be former interns themselves who want to pass along their wisdom to new employees entering the field or seasoned veterans assisting with career development. The advantage of hiring a professional as a mentor is that they come with guarantees such as experience and knowledge which allows them to provide more direction than one hired strictly off connections . Even so, some organizations prefer inexperienced mentors because they are not yet entrenched in the ways of the business and can bring newer ideas into play.

What Do Mentors Do?

Generally, a mentor meets their mentee once a week for at least an hour. The time span can be longer depending on the needs of both people involved in the program. During their meetings, mentors teach mentees skills that will enhance chances of success within the company and aid with career development . This interaction occurs either during scheduled meetings or is built into the day-to-day routine through impromptu discussions. Mentors may also provide guidance regarding how to balance work life with personal goals.

How Is This Different From Coaching?

Coaching, which is similar to mentoring , does not focus as strongly on imparting industry knowledge as mentorship does. Rather, coaching focuses more on improving specific aspects of one’s performance such as communication styles or public speaking. Mentorship places greater emphasis on developing the whole person in order to achieve success over time, not just in the present or near future.