Mentoring

Sarah Black

Sarah Black

REVERSE MENTORING Companies are now starting to realize that top-down learning is not always appropriate, particularly where social media and use of technology are involved, and “reverse mentoring” programs are emerging as a result. These give junior team members the opportunity to share up-to-date skills and knowledge with more senior colleagues.  For example, a younger person might be more comfortable with tools such as Pinterest®, WhatsApp® and Hootsuite®, so encouraging a pairing with an older colleague who has less experience of using these technologies can improve that person’s ability to connect with potential clients or customers. 

In reverse mentoring, a junior team member enters into a “professional friendship” with someone more senior, and they exchange skills, knowledge and understanding 

Reverse mentoring can play an important role in bridging the gap between the generations currently in the workforce 

senior team members may not believe that their younger mentors have valuable knowledge to share, and they may not be open to receiving feedback from people with less experience.  

You may also find that people are unwilling to dedicate time in their already busy schedules to mentor a person they don’t like or respect. 

 

Mentoring is a relationship between two people with the goal of professional and personal development. The “mentor” is usually an experienced individual who shares knowledge, experience, and advice with a less experienced person, or “mentee.” 

Mentors become trusted advisers and role models – people who have “been there” and “done that.” They support and encourage their mentees by offering suggestions and knowledge, both general and specific. The goal is to help mentees improve their skills and, hopefully, advance their careers. 

A mentoring partnership may be between two people within the same company, same industry, or same networking organization. However the partners come together, the relationship should be based on mutual trust and respect, and it typically offers personal and professional advantages for both parties. 

Mentoring and Other Professional Relationships 

Coaches, trainers, and consultants can all help you learn and grow professionally. Mentoring is a unique combination of all of these. Let’s explore some of the similarities and differences between mentoring and these other professions. 

  • Coaches help you to explore where you are in your career, where you want to go, and how you might get there. A coach will also support you in taking action to move toward your goal. 

Coaches and mentors differ in three main ways. First, a coach is generally paid, whereas your mentor will usually be making a voluntary commitment. This means that you can start working with a coach straight away, and that you can rely on them not to cancel sessions because “Something urgent’s come up”. Finding a mentor can take longer, and even when you do, your mentor may find it harder to keep space in their day for your mentoring appointment. 

Second, while coaches tend to guide you in mapping out your future, mentors actually suggest several paths you might take, although the choice of where to go next remains yours. 

Beyond that, of course, good coaches are professionally trained and qualified, so you can rely on getting a high-quality service from them. They also bring their experience of helping other people with career and life issues similar to those that you’re facing. 

  • Trainers help you learn and develop specific skills and knowledge. They typically set the topic, the pace, the goals, and the learning method. While you will obviously choose courses that match your requirements as closely as possible, training courses, by their nature, start with their own agendas rather than with your situation. 

Mentoring, however, can be tailored to your needs. While training is often best suited for gaining knowledge and skills, mentoring can also help you develop personal qualities and competencies. 

  • Career Consultants or Career Counsellors mostly work with people in transition between jobs, rather than helping you develop your skills when in a particular role. And, again, your relationship will often be a commercial one. 

Benefits to the Mentor 

Becoming a mentor can enrich your life on a personal and professional level by helping you do the following: 

  • Build your leadership skills – It helps you develop your ability to motivate and encourage others. This can help you become a better manager, employee, and team member. 
  • Improve your communication skills – Because your mentee may come from a different background or environment, the two of you may not “speak the same language.” This may force you to find a way to communicate more effectively as you navigate your way through the mentoring relationship. 
  • Learn new perspectives – By working with someone less experienced and from a different background, you can gain a fresh perspective on things and learn a new way of thinking – which can help in your work life as well as your personal life. 
  • Advance your career – Refining your leadership skills can strengthen your on-the-job performance, perhaps helping you get that promotion to higher management – or into management in the first place. Showing that you’ve helped others learn and grow is becoming more and more essential to advancement in today’s business world. 
  • Gain personal satisfaction – It can be very personally fulfilling to know that you’ve directly contributed to someone’s growth and development. Seeing your mentee succeed as result of your input is a reward in itself. 

 

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