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The Evolution of Mentoring

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When you are thinking of finding a mentor or becoming involved in a mentoring program have you thought about the journey that mentoring has been on over the years. Mentoring was always seen as the wise old sage at the top of the mountain peak sharing their wisdom and knowledge more so by telling rather than guiding. We refer to that as the “traditional style” of mentoring. When you would begin to look for a mentor you would search for that wise old sage and become dependent on their wisdom and guidance. You may have developed some problem solving or critical thinking skills but chances are you did not.

Fast forward to today and mentoring has become the buzzword for organizations, for people and you can’t turn on the television or pick up a paper without hearing or reading about the word mentoring. If you do a search on the internet it will generate 86,700,000 hits just on the word “mentoring”. If you search for “mentor training” it will generate 125,000,000 hits which is quite interesting.

Mentoring if done effectively can generate some very positive results. A white paper done by The Millennium Group International provides us with reason for implementing mentoring.

“According to the “Employee Mentoring Programs Benefits/Risk Assessment and Business Case” white paper from The Millennium Group International, 77 percent of companies that had a workplace mentoring program found it to be effective in increasing their retention, and 95 percent of mentees said participating in a mentoring program motivated them to up their game and do their best.”

I mentor a lot of people as it is my full time role. I spend a portion of my time researching best practices and listening and hearing what the people I spend time with telling what is important to them as a result of their commitment to a mentoring relationship. Here are some things that I am hearing:

  • Guide me to the answers – don’t tell me
  • We need to explore my growth on a personal level before we move to the professional
  • I want a mentor that listens and hears
  • It is very important that we have trust in the relationship
  • It should be a two way relationship where we both learn and grow
  • I like when you ask me questions as it forces me to think
  • Age really isn’t a factor
  • Having industry knowledge is a nice to have not a need to have

Mentoring has evolved and is still continuing to evolve. It is only through the full understanding of the paradigm shift in the mentoring process that we can unlock the “gift of mentoring” and help people and organizations grow to their full capacity and then some.

Randy Emelo is a thought leader in the mentoring space and a person that I hold in high regard. Randy is the Founder/Chief Strategist at River Software. Here is what he has to say:

“I am happy to say that this modern mentoring mindset and acceptance of social learning as a powerful learning and development tool has grown substantially in the last few years.  That said, there is still a lot of progress that needs to be made. A large majority of HR professionals and organizational leaders still only see mentoring as a tool for sponsorship and career progression or a practice to be used solely in support of targeted formal programs.  

There will always be a place for traditional mentoring (think mentoring circa 1988-2008) in organizations to serve small populations. In this way, mentoring in its “traditional” sense is not going away.  However, the focus now needs to shift to how we can use mentoring, coaching, and peer learning practices that have worked for us in the past to develop the other 90 to 99 percent of our organization that is not part of a special high-potential or diversity program.  

Mentoring, like dial-up Internet, needs be modernized to maximize its potential.  Modern mentoring is collaborative learning for the masses, and it can be an organization’s tool for developing an agile, connected, future workforce.”

 Mentoring has evolved and will continue to do so as it provides a business value that is very much needed. It also can play a role in working with people on their personal growth as those challenges can be obstacles for us to move forward and be the best employee that we can. If you are in that situation today you need to reach out to a mentor that is willing to work with you. One of the things that I do with the people I spend time with is to make sure that we have touched on those opportunities. To see the growth in someone that believes in themselves as much as I believe in them is the true “gift of mentoring!”

 References:

  1. https://www.td.org/Publications/Blogs/GovLearning-Blog/2014/02/The-Evolution-of-Mentoring
  2. http://www.skilledup.com/insights/best-practices-workplace-mentoring-programs