HR Glossary  >   Mentoring


What is Mentoring?

Mentorship is an old idea. It was first mentioned in a famous story called Homer's Odyssey. In jobs, mentorship became popular in the 1970s. Back then, it was mostly about experienced workers teaching new ones. Now, mentorship has changed. It's not just one-on-one anymore, and mentors can be anyone at work - peer mentoring is just as effective and beneficial.

We need to think about what mentorship means today before we talk about how to set up a mentorship program. Let us understand the meaning of mentorship in simple words:

“Mentorship is when one person, the mentor, gives advice and help to another person, the mentee. This is to help the mentee do better, learn, and move forward in their job.”

The Phases of Mentorship

Every mentorship goes through different steps, which people call the mentorship cycle. David Clutterbuck, who writes a lot about teaching and mentoring, calls these steps: getting to know each other, deciding on a plan, learning and growing, wrapping up, and then going your own way.

1. Getting to Know Each Other

The mentorship starts with the mentor and mentee figuring out if they work well together. Important things for a good start, pointed out by Megginson and others in "Mentoring in Action" (2006), are:

  • Having the same beliefs and goals.
  • Respecting each other.
  • Being clear about what they want to achieve together.
  • Agreeing on what each person should do and how they should act.
  • Building a good and strong connection is the foundation of a good mentorship.

2. Deciding on a Plan

This step involves making goals, figuring out how the relationship should go, and knowing what it will look like now and later. Usually, this step and starting to connect with each other can happen in the first few times you meet.

3. Learning and Growing

This is when both mentors and mentees learn the most. Good mentors will:

  • Make a well-organized but relaxed space.
  • Decide what they want to achieve in the meeting.
  • See things the way the person they are helping sees them.
  • Help them think deeply and share stories from their own life.
  • Help the person they are helping feel more sure of themselves.
  • Talk about different choices.
  • Go over what was done and agree on what to do next.
  • Suggest ideas for what to talk about the next time they meet.

Simultaneously, the newcomer starts to understand himself better and enhances his skills.

4. Wrapping Up

In this step, the mentor and the newcomer reflects on what they've done together and feel happy about their successes.

5. Go Your Own Way

The formal connection between mentor and mentee ends here and later becomes a more relaxed friendship or a relationship between work colleagues.

The 4 C’s of Mentorship

The 4 C’s of mentorship, which can vary depending on the source, often refer to the following principles that help create a successful mentor-mentee relationship:

1. Connection

The establishment of a trusting and respectful relationship between the mentor and mentee is essential. It’s the main step where both of them get to know each other and establish a rapport.

2. Communication

Clear and open communication is vital for the mentorship to be effective. Both mentor and mentee should feel comfortable sharing ideas, feedback, and concerns with each other.

3. Challenge

Mentors are there to challenge mentees to go beyond their comfort zones, and set new goals that encourage their personal and professional growth.

4. Commitment

Both mentor and mentee must be committed to the process, putting in the time and effort required to make the mentorship meaningful and productive.

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