Why Mentor or Be Mentored?
Do you remember a time in your working life when a senior or experienced person helped you settle into a new organisation, assisted you in networking or relationship building, made you aware of office politics or gave you some helpful advice on developing your career? If so, you are aware of what it means to have a mentor.
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One of the earliest records of mentoring was documented by Homer in ‘The Odyssey’. He tells the story of the Hero Odysseus who was preparing to leave for the siege of Troy.
Odysseus had a young son Telemachus and before leaving for the battle, Odysseus appointed a guardian to care for the boy in his absence. For the next 10 years this guardian acted as a faithful teacher, advisor, friend and surrogate father to Telemachus. The name of this mythical guardian was Mentor.
Today, mentors continue to play a critical role in passing on knowledge and experience to successive generations.
Mentoring is a form of development where one person invests time, energy and personal know how in assisting the growth and ability of another person.
Informal mentoring of people in an organisation has always taken place and has led to the rapid development and success of many business and academic leaders. The articles on this web site will focus on the principles and how to establish this type of mentoring relationship.
A number of Faculties/Budget Divisions offer formal mentoring programs for both students and staff. Refer to individual web sites for more information about these programs.
What Is A Mentor?
Mentors are generally more experienced, hold a higher position in an organisation and are willing to assist someone less experienced and/or skilled in developing their ability or career.
What is a Mentee?
Mentees are less experienced and are seeking assistance in developing their careers.
To gain from mentoring a person has to reach out and draw themselves into the lessons that mentors can offer.
What Do Mentors Get Out of It?
Most mentors have altruistic motivation; they volunteer to mentor for personal satisfaction, the desire to assist others, or they wish to give something back.
We should recognise and acknowledge the generosity of people who mentor. However, mentors often say that they feel they gain as much from mentoring as their mentees.
Mentors often find that using a facilitative style of communication to draw out their mentee's views, guiding a reflective process that leads to goal setting and action and simply taking time-out to make a contribution, is an important part of their own self-development.
Mentoring also assists in the process of identifying talent within the organisation, which can also be used to develop succession plans.
Outcomes of Mentoring Programs
Here are examples of outcomes that mentoring programs have delivered:
- New staff helped to settle in
- Increased knowledge of the organisation and/or field
- Increased self knowledge, awareness of skills
- Identification of areas for professional growth and development
- Improved career strategies
- Tangible support for staff in the workplace
- Leadership skills enhanced
- Increase in successful grant and fellowship applications
- More women/minority groups in leadership roles and talent pipeline
- Greater cross-functional communication – breaking down silos
- Operational consistency of technical functions
- Employee engagement - staff staying positive, productive and feeling valued during tough times
- Safer workplaces – policies and procedures developed and implemented
- Intergenerational relationships and communication improved
- Support networks established for people in non-traditional roles, regional and remote locations
- Improved client service
- Improved teamwork and leadership
- Greater potential to attract and retain key staff through increased levels of satisfaction
What Mentoring Is And Is Not
It is important that both you and your mentor recognise what does and does not constitute a mentoring relationship:
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