Mentoring is a management practice that can assist organizations in building a desired corporate culture, while enabling the careers of those who are already motivated to pursue one. It is an efficient and effective method of shortening the learning curve of new executives and providing more knowledgeable employees with broader perspectives. New executives with a mentor have a sounding board, as well as the benefit of their mentor’s experience as they navigate through situations that may be unfamiliar to them. Based upon a foundation of trust, the relationship of mentees with experienced executives can offer a safe place to try out ideas, skills, and roles with minimal risk, while focusing on their individual development needs.
In this article, I will discuss the impact a mentoring culture can make in an organization, how mentoring differs from coaching, the value of a structured approach to mentoring and the steps to set up a mentoring program.
Mentoring is defined as a professional and confidential relationship between two individuals that assists one of them in developing “business strategies” and acquiring new “technical” knowledge and skills. One mentee concluded, after a year-long mentoring relationship in a structured program I designed for a large public sector organization,1 that: “It is an evolutionary process, where mentors become a resource for someone enabling an exchange of ideas and experiences. Avoid matching of those who have known each other a long time… the forging of the relationship is a valuable part of the process.”