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viernes, 15 de marzo de 2013

The benefits of Mentoring for Mentors and Mentees

Mentoring is a practice that is becoming quite popular in these last years all around the world as the benefits for the Mentors and Mentees are quite significant, The companies have measured and recognized the value of it, and are working on internal and external initiatives for spreading its use.

Mentoring has been used since the old times of our history. In fact, the name of mentoring comes from the old greek mythology. (Mentor was a close friend of Ulises who acted as a Mentor for his son Telemaco).

When talking to different people about what is mentoring, I have seen quite confussion between what is mentoring and what is coaching. I believe this is due to the popularity of the word Coaching and the role of the Coach in comparison to the less known word Mentoring and the role of the Mentor. Due to this, let me expose some of the "hundreds" of definitions available:

Mentoring: is a two-way mutually beneficial learning situation where the mentor provides advice, shares knowledge and experiences, and teaches using a low pressure, self-discovery approach. Mentors in either a formal mentoring program or informal relationship focus on the person, their career and support for individual growth and maturity. The Mentor has a deep personal interest, personally involved—a friend who cares about you and your long term development. As the Mentor is usually a more experienced individual, he/she can more easily facilitate reflection and problem solving, but generally refrains from giving direct advice or skill/knowledge transfer. 

The Mentor is both a source of information/knowledge and acts as a "Friend, Philosopher and Guide" towards the Mentee.

Coaching is a process whereby an individual gets support while learning to achieve a specific personal or professional result or goal. A Coach facilitates the development of specific skills for the task, challenges and performance expectations at work. The individual getting coached may be referred to as the client, the mentee or coachee, or they may be in an intern or apprenticeship relationship with the person coaching them.

Coaching may also happen in an informal relationship between one individual who has greater experience and expertise than another and offers advice and guidance, as the other goes through a learning process.

And the best way to see the differences between both are with examples:

Typical mentoring situations:
  • To support/advice for professional development over the long term (e.g. career exploration, moving around the organization, feedback on goals setting or gaining perspective on the organization, etc)
  • Guide the learner to grow in maturity / seniority
  • To give advise, for discussion and give feedback on a variety of sensitive issues (e.g. change in behavior, cultural/gender/racial awareness, etc) situations)
Typical coaching situations:
  • Developing a learner new in a position, new in a role or new at the company
  • Building skills within technical/business areas, methods and for specifically defined competencies
  • Individual career planning – what is the next step

The benefits for the Mentees are described above, but which one are the benefits for the Mentors? Why should I spend time doing this, that by the way, is a non-profit activity from an economical point of view?

Well, some of the benefits are:

  • Get visibility in the organization and in the community
  • Get recognition
  • Expand your network
  • Enhance your communication skills
  • Develops active listening
  • Helps you to review your past experiences and knowledge

And last but not least, in fact for me the most important, is the satisfation of helping to other people.

I have had the chance of experiencing the benefits of Mentoring from both sides, as a Mentor and as a Mentee. First inside my company, and later on as a volunteer in the PMI Information Systems Community of Practice.

Nowadays, as I strongly believe in the benefits of mentoring, I keep acting as a Mentor in my company, and I have recently joined the initiative launched by the PMI Madrid Chapter where I will work together with other colleagues of the chapter in the management of the mentoring program, trying to apply my own experiences, and the lessons learnt in similar programs by our colleagues from the Montreal Chapter and the Information Systems CoP.

I recommend of all you to promote these mentoring initiatives inside your companies and your associations, as the benefits for the persons involved, the companies, and at last, the whole society, are clearly significant and remarkable.

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