Mentoring is one of the most effective career development program these days. In India it is gaining popularity even among SMEs (Small medium enterprises). It is in fact one of the better ways to foster relationship within individuals across the organizational hierarchy.
Mentoring is a process of developing formal relationships between junior and senior members of the organisation, in certain cases mentoring also takes place between peers. In other words it is a process of developing relationships between more experienced members of an organisation and the less experienced ones for transfer of knowledge and skills. These associations are developed with the intent of developing career functions. For example, coaching, sponsorship, protection to peer, challenging assignments, introduction to important contacts and resources are certain ways in which mentoring may happen.
Mentoring is also targeted to psychological functions; role modeling, counseling, bench-marking individual practices are various ways in which the latter is achieved. It is no doubt an important tool that apart from employee development also leads to increased job satisfaction, organsational dedication and career achievement.
The process of mentoring works both ways i.e. it benefits both the parties, the mentor and the mentee. It increases the job involvement and satisfaction of the mentor. In case of the one mentored, he feels valuable, the job satisfaction increases and there is essentially a transfer of knowledge and skills.
Organisations that have Formal Mentoring Programs
Lots of organisations are using mentoring programs as means of career development. Federal express, bank of America and Merrill lynch are some organisation that have formal mentoring programs in place. Bank of America for example has developed quad squads which comprises of a mentor and three mentees (also called as protégé for ‘males’ and ‘protegee’ for female). Many organisations have also developed like to like mentoring relationships (for example Anglo-Indian mentors with Anglo-Indian mentees).
Mentoring requires an exercise of great wisdom, caution and expertise on the part of the mentor. There are many techniques that are used these days, some of which have been briefly explained below:
Mentors are assigned with the responsibility of preparing their mentee for change. The focus is to prepare the individual mentally before he/she is asked for change, so that the change is not taken as negative and instead a developmental process. This mentoring technique s called sowing.
The other entering technique is called as accompanying, wherein the mentor is involved in the learning process of mentee side by side explicitly, guiding all the time.
Doing is yet another mentoring technique in which the mentor uses his own example to make something understand. It is also called leading.
Harvesting is one technique that is essentially aimed at evaluation of the past learning’s and to extract conclusions from the same.
Catalyzing is one technique wherein the process of learning or knowledge transfer is speeded. This is done only when a significant amount of change is achieved.
For mentoring it is important to understand the learning requirements and the style of the mentee. An inappropriate mentoring methodology can act reverse. As mentioned at the beginning of the write up, you require great deal of expertise for the mentoring process. Handle with care is the mantra!