To teach, you must be willing to learn. I have learnt more as a mentee than as a mentor. Mentoring is not about ‘I give, you take’. Mentoring is about effective communication. Mentoring is about speaking your heart out and it is a skill to develop. A mentor may not even know that he is being considered as a mentor. A mentoring relationship can last forever. If people take your experience as a learning opportunity for them, you’ve already mentored without a formal process. All of us are mentors and all of us are mentees.
Mentoring is more of a practice than a theory or a concept. It cannot be ‘perfectly’ defined. Mentoring can be used by organizations to increase their ability to deal with people. If it is positioned as an HR initiative, it wouldn’t work as effectively as it would as a people’s initiative. In the corporate sector, mentoring is understood as a tool to develop leadership within the organization. It is a process of the senior and more experienced members of an organization guiding and helping the junior and less experienced members in their career and personal development. Mentoring is a process of building mutually beneficial partnership to help develop skills, behavior and insights to reach the partner’s goals which a mentor has no stake in the outcome of. Mentoring is a relationship where two people involved are always together at power in the learning process.
A mentor has several roles to play. He is a Coach, a Counsellor, a Netoworker and a Facilitator. As a mentor, you have to learn to respond without giving solutions. As a mentor you don’t even have to tell people what they have to do as they will never do it. Direction can easily slip into becoming a solution, so as a mentor you don’t even have to ‘direct’. Mentees come for answers but the mentor comes with questions. Mentors find it difficult to hold back solutions and mentees find it difficult to hold back expecting answers to their problems/questions. Mentoring is about listening with intent. Even silence can be used effectively. A basic human skill is to convey what you feel, understand and think. A mentor can never judge his mentee and a mentee is never wrong especially while sharing emotions. A mentor must encourage mentees to hone their skills at what they are already good at. There is research evidence to say that when you appreciate, productivity goes up.
Do not encourage the mentee to use your name for personal gains. Don’t try to put a ROI on mentoring. Mentoring provides you with the opportunity to develop your leadership skills. It builds your reputation as a good leader and helps you network better. If you learn one skill i.e. to reach out, more than half of your problem would get solved, the skill to reach out. If you have the basic human skills, you can handle almost all your problems. “To get people to become humble” is what mentoring is all about.
Written By: Prof. Gowri Joshi