Mentoring is considered to be one of the most valuable tools for employees in enhancing their competencies and making career decisions. It is a nurturing process in which a more skilled or experienced
person serves as a role model and involves teaching, encouraging and counseling a less experienced person to promote professional and personal development.
The best way to understand the importance of the qualities of an effective mentor is to look at the role of workplace mentors. They interact with their protégés in a wide range of activities.
In many ways, mentoring is a fairly intuitive process. Some of these activities happen quite naturally as the mentor-protégé relationship develops and matures.
- Mentors assess the strengths, developmental needs and personalities of their protégés. They use their skills to adapt the mentoring process to the individual.
- Mentors clarify expectations. They help their protégés decide what they want and need from the relationship.
- Mentors also understand that mentoring is a mutual process — it involves two-way learning experiences. Mentors can learn as much from the relationship as their protégés. They too must decide what they want to take away from the process.
- Mentors help their protégés to focus on clear and attainable goals. These goals can be either professional or personal, or both. They can range from mastering a simple task to solving a relationship problem.
- Mentors share their knowledge and experience. They are willing to give and receive feedback, and to assist their protégés in refining and correcting behaviours. They share their knowledge and skills by guiding, teaching, coaching and modelling. However, they encourage their protégés to find their own path.
- Mentors challenge protégés and provide them with the opportunity to grow.
- Mentors assist protégés to continually set new goals as previous ones are reached. They delegate new duties and responsibilities so that their protégés continue to develop new areas of expertise.
- Mentors facilitate learning opportunities outside of the company. They refer their protégés to other sources that may help in building job knowledge and skills. They introduce their protégés to others who can help them reach their goals. They refer them to bio-economy associations, and introduce them to books and professional journals.
- Mentors stimulate their protégés to engage in reflective thinking about their professional development. They introduce techniques such as journal writing and discussion sessions to help protégés reflect on their own growth and development.
- Mentors commit time and energy to the relationship. They take the building of the learning relationship seriously. They do not, however, take personal responsibility for their protégés’ problems.
HR Microscope November 2014