Mentoring...Why does it work?

Eight Mentoring Myths Shattered

Many of us think about mentoring and imagine the stereotype of the older mentor advising a younger professional with only the mentee receiving benefit from the relationship. Not true! Let us examine some of these myths.

Myth 1: Mentoring is a one-way street .
Both people can learn from each other's strengths and experiences. A mentor can learn something new, because their mentee's perspective may make them think about things differently. A good mentoring partnership is always a two-way relationship.

Myth 2: A mentoring relationship can only be face-to-face.
Many partnerships want to meet in person. However, face-to-face meetings may not always be possible, so it is important for the two parties to establish ground rules for communicating. That includes discussing whether they will connect via e-mail or phone and, if possible, meet in person. Meeting times as well as the topics to be discussed should be confirmed in advance.

Myth 3: Mentoring is a time-consuming process.
Because each mentoring relationship depends on the mentor and mentee agreeing on the purpose and focus of their relationship, it is unique…and so is the time and energy that goes into it. The more each party puts into the partnership, the more they get back.

Myth 4: Expectations are the same for everyone.
While many mentoring partners share similar reasons for being in a mentoring relationship—their individual expectations vary. Some mentors want to give back to their profession by sharing their knowledge and experiences. Others want to learn about industry trends and cutting-edge applications from their mentee.

Myth 5: Mentors must be older.
Age is not a qualification or a disqualification from being a mentor. Mentors should be chosen for their understanding, skill, and capacity to share what they know based on the mentee's own professional development needs.

Myth 6: Developing a mentoring relationship is complicated.
A mentoring partnership is only as complicated as one makes it. This training provides a variety of resources to guide the mentoring process

Myth 7: You need only one mentor at a time.
Each mentor brings unique knowledge to the mentee, so having more than one can offer greater learning experiences. However, it is important for mentees to openly share their objectives with their mentors so that each mentor can be chosen for a specific area of development.

Myth 8: Mentoring relationships happen on their own. It is up to the mentees to have specific, measurable objectives and to find a mentor they will respect and trust to help them reach their goals. Once the partnership is under way and working, it is up to the partners to make the relationship blossom.

Who Benefits from Mentoring?  

Mentoring brings benefits to everyone involved in its practice. Click here to see a video, "Pass it on,"in which celebrities Maya Angelou, Clint Eastwood, Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Victoria Rowell, and Sting talk about important mentors in their lives.

Most mentoring programs are designed for the benefit of mentees, and they encourage participants to come into a relationship with specific goals and expectations. The benefits of mentoring, however, often extend far beyond the relationship's initial purpose and affect everyone involved: mentees, mentors, and the organizations supporting the programs. Let us examine a few of those benefits: 

Benefits for Mentees:
•  Insight into the pros and cons of various career options
•  Enhanced training and career development
•  Increased self-awareness and self-discipline
•  An expanded personal network
•  Support in the transition to a new role or location
•  A sounding board for testing ideas and plans
•  Improved performance as a result of having their assumptions challenged
•  Positive and constructive feedback on professional and personal development areas

Benefits for Mentors:
•  Proven method to share ideas, try new skills and take risks
•  Enhanced capacity to translate values and strategies into productive actions
•  Satisfaction from helping others and seeing them progress
•  Increased awareness of personal biases, assumptions and areas for improvement
•  Opportunity to develop and practice management skills
•  Renewed enthusiasm for their role as expert
•  Expanded networking opportunities

Benefits for the Organizations:
•  An environment that fosters personal and professional growth through the sharing of business information, skills, attitudes and behaviors
•  Increased role modeling of leaders developing other leaders and future officers
•  A proven process for the identification, development and retention of talent for leadership roles
•  Increased membership satisfaction for mentees and mentors
Source: Triple Creek Associates, 2007

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