What is Mentoring? Objectives, Types, Importance

  • Post last modified:13 October 2021
  • Reading time:10 mins read

What is Mentoring?

Mentoring is most often defined as a professional relationship in which an experienced person (the mentor) assists another (the mentee) in developing specific skills and knowledge that will enhance the less-experienced person’s professional and personal growth.

According to Eric Par mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximize their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be.

Mentoring is a powerful personal development and empowerment tool. It is an effective way of helping people to progress in their careers and is becoming increasing popular as its potential is realized. It is a partnership between two people (mentor and mentee) normally working in a similar field or sharing similar experiences. It is a helpful relationship based upon mutual trust and respect.

A mentor is a guide who can help the mentee to find the right direction and who can help them to develop solutions to career issues. Mentors rely upon having had similar experiences to gain empathy with the mentee and an understanding of their issues.

Mentoring provides the mentee with an opportunity to think about career options and progress. Mentoring is about becoming more self-aware, taking responsibility for your life and directing your life in the direction you decide, rather than leaving it to chance.


Importance of Mentoring at Work

The organizations are creating formal mentoring programs for various reasons. Successful mentoring programs just don’t happen for which organizations have to first make a strong business case demonstrate why the organization should devote the time, attention and resources required to make a formal mentoring process work.

Reasons for establishing a mentoring program must be linked to the organization’s business goals. Reasons for establishing a mentoring program must be linked to the organization’s business goals on the plus side, organizations find today’s employees exhibit a more flexible approach to work. On the minus side, employees may feel less loyalty to the organizations for which they work.

Here are some reasons why agencies choose to establish mentoring programs:

  • As part of the On boarding process: mentoring helps new recruits, trainees or graduates settle into the organization;

  • Skills Enhancement: mentoring enables experienced, highly competent staff to pass their expertise on to others who need to acquire specified skills;

  • Professional Identity: when younger employees are early in their careers, they need help understanding what it means to be a professional in their working environment. Professionals embody the values of the profession and are self initiating and self-regulating.

    Mentors play a key role in defining professional behavior for new employees. This is most important when employees first enter the federal workforce;

  • Career Development: mentoring helps employees plan, develop, and manage their careers. It also helps them become more resilient in times of change, more self-reliant in their careers and more responsible as self-directed learners;

  • Leadership and Management Development: mentoring encourages the development of leadership competencies. These competencies are often more easily gained through example, guided practice or experience than by education and training;

  • Education Support: mentoring helps bridge the gap between theory and practice. Formal education and training is complemented by the knowledge and hands-on experience of a competent practitioner;

  • Organizational Development and Culture Change: mentoring can help communicate the values, vision and mission of the organization; a one-to-one relationship can help employees understand the organizational culture and make any necessary changes;

  • Customer Service: mentoring assists in modeling desired behaviors, encouraging the development of competencies in support of customer service, and above all, cultivating the right attitudes;

  • Staff retention: mentoring provides an encouraging environment through ongoing interactions, coaching, teaching, and role modeling that facilitates progression within the organization; mentoring has been found to influence employee retention because it helps establish an organizational culture that is attractive to the top talent clamoring for growth opportunities.

    Mentoring is a tangible way to show employees that they are valued and that the company’s future includes them;

  • Recruitment: mentoring can enhance recruitment goals by offering additional incentives to prospective employees;

  • Knowledge Management/Knowledge Transfer: mentoring provides for the interchange/exchange of information/knowledge between members of different organizations.

Objectives of Mentoring

  • Establishing a relationship of trust
  • Modeling behavioural norms for the young person
  • Listening to the person’s concerns and problems
  • Helping him to search for alternative solutions for the problems
  • Sharing own relevant experiences
  • Responding to his emotional needs, without making him depend on the mentor
  • Developing long-lasting, personal, and informal relationships.

Types of Mentoring

Group Mentoring

Group Mentoring is done when one mentor can be teamed with several mentees who meet at the same time. As the mentor poses questions, listens and reflects he or she engages all members of the group into the conversation. Each one has their own experience and insight to share and can draw their own learning from the discussion.

Group mentoring is limited by the difficulty of regularly scheduling meetings for the entire group. It also lacks the personal relationship that most people prefer in mentoring. For this reason, it is often combined with the one-on-one model.

One-On-One Mentoring

The most common mentoring model, one-on one mentoring matches’ one mentor with one mentee. Most people prefer this model because it allows both mentor and mentee to develop a personal relationship and provides individual support for the mentee. The availability of mentors is the only limitation.

Resource-Based Mentoring

Resource-based mentoring offers some of the same features as one-on-one mentoring. The main difference is that mentors and mentees are not interviewed and matched by a Mentoring Program Manager. Instead, mentors agree to add their names to a list of available mentors from which a mentee can choose.

It is up to the mentee to initiate the process by asking one of the volunteer mentors for assistance. This model typically has limited support within the organization and may result in mismatched mentor-mentee pairing.

Training-Based Mentoring

This model is tied directly to a training program. A mentor is assigned to a mentee to help that person develop the specific skills being taught in the program. Training-based mentoring is limited because it focuses on the subject at hand and doesn’t help the mentee develop a broader skillset.

Reverse Mentoring

Reverse Mentoring is the mentoring of a senior person (in terms of age, experience or position) by a junior (in terms of age, experience or position) individual. Reverse mentoring aims to help older, more senior people learn from the knowledge of younger people, usually in the field of information technology, computing, and Internet communications.

The key to success in reverse mentoring is the ability to create and maintain an attitude of openness to the experience and dissolve the barriers of status, power and position.

Virtual Mentoring

Videoconferencing, Internet, and e-mail is used for virtual mentoring. This is beneficial for those who are unable to leave their workplace and for those who live in remote communities. Virtual mentoring is usually less expensive compared to face-to-face mentoring and provides an individual with more choices for mentors.

Even with virtual mentoring, it is recommended the mentor and mentee meet face to face at least once.


Skills and Activities of Mentoring

What is required of a mentor? The most favoured attributes appear to be acting as a sounding board for ideas; being a source of organizational knowledge; and helping people to see themselves more clearly. Interesting, few potential mentors choose a role model; someone who exemplifies good practice although this is frequently the reason a mentor is chosen by a mentee.

Each variant of the mentor role requires different skills, but a core might include some familiar and well-developed techniques, to be used during a mentoring meeting:

  • Listening openly without making judgments;
  • Asking open-ended questions;
  • Summarizing;
  • Clarifying;
  • Reflecting back;
  • Being aware of differences between verbal and non-verbal behavior;
  • Helping the mentee explore potential options and their outcomes.

Learning to Mentor

To provide a baseline or a common approach, many organizations provide orientation or training for mentors. It can be a welcome opportunity to attend a mentoring workshop to engage in some personal development, to revisit the skills of listening, establishing rapport, reflecting on one’s own behaviour; skills that may have become rusty in the journey to a senior position. The use fullness of mentors lies partly in their knowledge and experience.

But as this becomes less relevant with changing times, mentors’ key value is in their ability to help their mentees to gain knowledge and experience of their own in their current role, and to develop their ability to make effective judgments in ambiguous or uncertain or uncertain situations.


Informal Mentoring

In organizations, many people have experience of an informal mentor; someone who took them under their wing at a crucial stage in their career. If we are considering a wide variety of organizations, there are traces of this process, being, as it is, a very normal and well-respected human activity. There is one approach to promote mentoring in the organization is to encourage this process by, for instance:

  • Describing it as a valuable process;
  • Encouraging new recruits to select a mentor;
  • Including developmental activities such as mentoring and appraisal criteria for senior managers.

Development through Mentoring

Successful companies large and small use mentoring to tackle complex human resource challenges such as increasing employee retention, enabling company succession plans, and improving workforce productivity.

Employee Career Development

By encouraging a learning culture through mentoring, companies ensure that employees take an active role in spreading knowledge and best practices throughout their organization. The collaborative nature of mentoring develops individuals and interpersonal links between individuals, which increases engagement.

Corporate mentoring enables both career development and leadership development to help employees develop new skills and feel engaged within the organization. These factors all lead to happier employees and a better retention rate for a stronger, more effective organization.

Leadership Development

High potentials are an incredibly valuable asset to any company, but they’re often difficult to retain. With careful cultivation, companies can increase retention to ensure they’ll be able to appoint suitable leaders at the top when needed—which is crucial to the health and future of every organization.

Professional mentoring programs are an effective strategy to reward high potentials with personal attention and guidance, which leads to nurturing an organization’s leadership chain. By connecting high potentials with leaders, top performers, and each other across the company, high potentials learn faster and are ready to take on leadership positions sooner.

Diversity Mentoring

A diverse workforce is required to stimulate innovation, cultivate creativity, and steer business strategies. Mentoring empowers a diverse range of employees to share their opinions, ideas, knowledge, and experiences on a level playing field.

Mentoring creates an environment of trust, belonging, understanding, support, and encouragement for a diverse workforce. It gives employees an opportunity to voice their concerns, overcome hurdles, and find solutions. As a result, it inspires employees to perform to their highest ability.

Reverse Mentoring

Popular among companies that believe everyone has something to bring to the table, reverse mentoring partners an older, more experienced employee with a younger, less experienced newcomer.

It differs from traditional mentoring because it’s the new employee who serves as the mentor, providing senior members of the organization with up-to-date information on the latest business technologies and workplace trends.

Reverse mentoring is generally a two-way street, with a partnership that provides the younger employee with a chance to see the larger picture as well as macro-level management issues.

Knowledge Transfer

Helping employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and expertise is essential for any organization. Mentoring is an effective approach to organize, create, capture, and distribute knowledge.

It supports short- and longer-term situational as well as topical learning between individuals and groups. It also reduces the time required for knowledge transfer by providing direct access to a range of experts and peers who can share the required knowledge and skills in an environment that promotes rapid learning.

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