What is mentorship
Mentorship is a kind of relationship in which a more knowledgeable and more experienced person helps to guide a less knowledgeable and less experienced person. It doesn't mean that the mentor needs to be an older person. The most important is that the mentor must have a certain area of expertise. It is usually an informal learning and development partnership between a person who wants to learn and expert that wants to share their knowledge.
Mentoring is a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital, and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development; mentoring entails informal communication, usually face-to-face and during a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the mentor) and a person who is perceived to have less (the protégé)
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What mentors can offer?
Mentors are usually viewed as the ones who provide two types of functions to their mentees:
- Career functions
- Psychosocial functions
Both psychosocial and career functions predict mentees career satisfaction, although they have different roots and outcomes!
Career functions involve behaviors that help mentees to prepare them for work within their organizations: sponsoring mentees advancement, increasing their positive exposure, coaching mentees and offering them challenging assignments.
Psychosocial functions are built on intimacy, trust, interpersonal bonds. Psychosocial functions include behaviors that enhance the mentee's personal and professional growth, self-worth and identity. Offering acceptance and providing counselling or role-modeling is very important during the whole relationship.
Numerous studies (eg Kram, 1983) show the benefits that derive mentees from the relationship. We can divide them into five groups:
- General benefits
- Professional growth
- Increase recognition and acceptance in the professional community
- Increased self-confidence
- Personal Growth
Taking that into consideration, lots of companies and universities run their own Mentoring Programmes. They come from traditional mentoring but take different forms depending on the circumstances.
Most research has focused on career outcomes for mentees and has found a positive relationship between career outcomes and the presence of a mentor. But it is also shown that no mentoring is better than the poor one! (Cotton and Miller Study).
Types of Mentoring
Informal mentoring relationships develop on their own, such as when a person approaches a possible mentor and that person agrees to form a mentoring relationship.
Formal mentoring relationships refer to assigned relationships, in which the organization oversees and guides the mentoring program in order to promote employee development.
Traditional Mentoring, in which there is a long-term relationship where a mentor guides the protégé's career.
Special Project Mentoring, in which a mentor helps to guide a protégé's short-term project or task (normally lasting a few weeks to a few months)
How to find a mentor?
"What is my motivation to have a mentor ?" - finding a perfect person who will be willing to share knowledge with you can be a tricky thing to do, but if you find the reason why you want to meet such a person, it will be easier for you to imagine what kind of person it should be.
"What I want to discuss with my future mentor" - be precise. You don't need a mentor for everything. Maybe there is that one thing you want to improve in your life, like communicating skills or maybe you need a mentor who will help you define the direction of your development. It is almost impossible to find a person who is great at everything. But everyone has mastered some skills during their life!
"What kind of person my mentor should be" - knowing your own expectations will be very helpful. It will help you find a perfect mentor and start clear relationship with him. You need to know what kind of person you need to achieve your goals.
"What do I want to achieve" - I want to become a great listener may be not enough. Precise your goal on your own or try to do it with your mentor!
"How do I want to achieve it" - Don't be scared if you don't know how to achieve your goals. You are not alone. Your mentor will guide you to the answer but remember: Your work needs to be done by yourself.
It is all about your development so take it seriously. Great mentors present challenges, they invest in the success of their mentees and sometimes it means pushing them beyond their own expectations. Mentoring is a kind of a partnership relation. Basically, it means that your mentor is not about to tell you what to do and how to do it. He can help you to find the answer to your questions but you need to be an independent person.
Boomerang effect (Dickinson, Jankot, Gracon, 2009). Mentors Often get a lot of the mentoring relationship. It means that it is a two-way learning process in which mentee can express an idea or concept that can affect mentor and give him a new insight. Mentoring is about giving and receiving for mentee and mentor as well.
1. Chao, G.T., Walz, P.M., Gardner, P.D. (1992). Formal and informal mentorships: A comparison on mentoring functions and contrast with nonmentored counterparts. Personnel Psychology, 45, 620-636.
2. Tepper, B.J. (1995). Upward maintenance tactics in supervisory mentoring and nonmentoring relationships. Academy of Management Journal, 38, 1191-1205.
3. Buell, C. (2004). Models of Mentoring in Communication. Communication Education, 53(3),56-73.
4. Parsloe, E.; Wray, M. J. (2000). Coaching and mentoring: practical methods to improve learning. Kogan Page.
5. Levinson, Daniel S.; Darrow, C. N,; Klein, E. B.; Levinson, M. (1978). Seasons of a Man's Life. New York: Random House.
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