How mentoring works

Mentoring is based on a relationship between the mentor and mentee. Through this relationship, the mentor and mentee can benefit from a range of personal and professional development opportunities.

Mentoring can:

  • help with career progression
  • improve job satisfaction
  • increase motivation
  • develop leadership and problem-solving skills
  • build confidence and self-esteem
  • boost morale
  • provide regular constructive feedback
  • widen networking circles.

Types of mentoring

A mentor-mentee relationship may be informal or formal. The type you choose for your business will depend on your staff, business requirements and resources.

In an informal arrangement, staff choose their own mentor. The mentor and mentee then set a loose time frame for casual meetings to discuss the mentee's career goals. A formal mentoring arrangement is usually more structured, with regular meetings and reviews of the mentee's progress. Regardless of whether the arrangement is informal or formal, the mentor-mentee relationship must be based on trust and open communication.

If you are a small business, you may find it difficult to find mentors internally. In this case, you may encourage your staff to look externally for a mentor, either through similar businesses, industry associations, or mentoring programs.

Mentee benefits and responsibilities

Mentoring is ideal for enthusiastic staff who are keen to progress in business. To get the most out of a mentoring relationship, a mentee should know what they would like to achieve and communicate this with their mentor. Together, the mentor and mentee can then track the mentee's progress.

A mentee can use their mentor as a sounding board for ideas, which can help them make decisions faster and with more certainty. They can learn from their mentor's experience and knowledge, and improve their own business skills.

Mentor benefits and responsibilities

Being a mentor can help senior staff develop their leadership skills and groom them for more advanced management roles.

A mentor needs to have strong communication and listening skills, and should act as a role model, adviser, critic and consultant. Mentors should support and challenge their mentees, giving them fair, considered feedback on their performance. It's essential that they are realistic about how much time they can commit to the relationship.

A mentor must be impartial and treat issues that their mentee raises as confidential. This allows the mentee to talk freely with their mentor about any concerns they have without worrying about repercussions in the workplace. For this reason, it may not be appropriate for the mentor to be the mentee's immediate supervisor.

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