Mrs Tamala

Mentoring eh?

A study was conducted to establish behaviour:

  Think about great people with whom you have worked or those that you have heard, read about and whom you would like to be….your role models, so to say. What is it about them that made them so effective?

 The unanimous response is that most effective managers and leaders have the qualities of a great mentor or a coach.

 Further studies have shown that people who utilise the services of a mentor achieve higher personal growth. At work, they have more effective teams, they have high morale and better bottom-line results than those who don’t use a mentor. These people are better leaders, with high levels of retention of key people, better customer service in their organisations and higher productivity. At school, children who use teachers as mentors perform better than those who don’t.  In everyday life, people who model themselves to a mentor behave more like the mentor, hence have a positive impact on other people’s lives themselves. And let’s face it, people remember their mentors and what their impact is on the lives of their mentees.

 Before I confuse you all, let’s define mentoring and see who can be a mentor and who can be a mentee.

What is mentoring?

The term ‘Mentoring’ has come to represent a range of significantly different approaches, including:

 Apprenticeship schemes many years ago, where the master craftsman would be a mentor to an apprentice.

 An older wiser manager with a young, high flying protégé – the manager coaches the mentee and makes sure they are given high profile projects so other managers will see how good the mentees are and promote them.

 A friend or buddy (mentee) who listens while you as Mentor, talk about your skills and abilities – and help the mentee think about their own development needs.

 Many managers feel they are mentors to their own staff. However, this is supposed to be a part of their job.

 A lot of informal mentoring takes place. We talk to trusted friends and colleagues about our careers – or lack of them and about other aspects of our lives.

 So we can see that Mentoring has several definitions. The two most common ones that can be deduced from above are:

 Mentoring is a one to one relationship, which aims to provide:

  A safe environment to develop individual learning.

  Learning through exploring issues with an experienced colleague, friend, parent, friend’s parent etc.

  Support, reassurance & guidance.

  Mentoring is an interpersonal process, which encourages human growth in its broadest sense, both at a professional and personal level.

 Mentoring involves a mentor, working with a mentee, in a relationship of mutual trust, respect and openness, with the aim of supporting the mentee’s development. An effective mentoring relationship provides an opportunity for medium to long-term support, which complements other training and development opportunities. There are various types of mentoring: Career, Peer and Role Model type of mentoring… what I call the ‘I want to be like her’ type of mentoring. This is the type of mentoring that this small presentation will focus on. 

What qualities do I need to be a mentor?

There is a range of qualities needed to be a mentor. Some of the key areas include people who have the following:

  • A good reputation within the organisation for developing others
  • The time and mental energy to put in the relationship
  • For Career mentors, they should have current know-how of good management practice and awareness of the organisations’ issues
  • Competence in core skills of coaching, facilitating, listening and networking
  • Interested in and willing to help others
  • Still willing and able to learn
  • Experience of being mentored themselves is an advantag
  • The ability to know when to withhold advice
  • A person who is willing to be a shoulder so that the mentee can sometimes cry on
  • A good listener
  • See learning as important and valuable.
  • Committed to the process

Now this list encourages me because there is enough for everybody.

 The good news is that we are all mentors at one time or other.

I know that some of you made your grandparents as your mentors.

While as some of you have made your parents or pastors your mentors.

A small fraction of you has made some of your teachers your mentors. And guess what?

Other people have made your mentors as well. I hope they have told you so that you try to behave in an even more friendly, supportive and transparent manner!

Girls, now that we know that we are mentors, we should strive to be effective, because we want to influence our mentees positively.
The above qualities stress on the fact that there cannot be the  ‘Me’ mentality in being a mentor.


Who can be a mentee?

When most people think of mentoring, an older, wiser sage comes to mind. Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s (American Restaurant), once told his employees that being a mentee was like looking for “a wing to climb under.” This type of mentoring relationship is one that develops and grows over time and is generally focused on developing the career of the mentee.  In a working environment, the mentoring programme is ideal for employees who have recently been appointed into a managerial position or are new to the organisation and would benefit from knowledge, skills and constructive feedback in order to develop their new role.
It is appropriate for managers who have new challenges to face.

In a voluntary organisation like the Aberdeen Women’s group, a mentee can be any woman or child who would like to learn more from a sister that has influenced their lives positively. The mentees role model.
The mentee needs to have certain attributes in order to gain most out of the mentoring relationship. This includes:

  • One who has recognised a need to have an independent perspective on their development.
  • A willingness to take responsibility for undertaking tasks agreed with the mentor.
  • Prepared to share information about needs and requirements.
  • Willing to see the process as an opportunity for increased learning and personal development.
  • Seeing the mentoring relationship as a two-way process, including a willingness to share ideas and issues.
  • Confidentiality has to be observed by both parties during and after the mentoring process.
  • The mentee should seek clarification in order to understand what the mentor says.
  • Take responsibility for one’s own development.
  • Consider different perspectives.
  • Review and reflect on own behaviour and performance.


Career mentoring

 Organisations use this kind of mentoring, career mentoring, to develop future leaders, retain their high performers, manage their knowledge bank, and achieve their diversity goals. When training mentors and mentees in career mentoring, it is important to provide a structured process for the mentoring relationship. (This will be explained with an exercise in the workshop later).

It is also critical to enhance their communication, learning, and coaching skills so that they have a much better chance of achieving their goals…and the goals of the organisation.

Peer mentoring

Peer Mentoring is more focused on short-term goals. A newer employee needs to be brought up to speed quickly. An IT professional needs to be mentored and coached on a new software application. A sales rep needs some quick help in overcoming an unexpected customer objection. Mentoring these employees is provided by their peers, and the process usually ends when the new skill is mastered.
 Peer mentoring is usually focused on improving job performance, learning a best practice, or gaining knowledge. Unlike career mentoring, mentor and mentee roles can actually alternate as needs arise. As in career mentoring, the organisation can gain a great deal from fostering these mentoring relationships.
 “We are a successful company because our employees not only focus on making great products but also on making EACH OTHER great.”

Role Model type of Mentoring.

To me, the Role Model type of mentoring is the most important of all the mentoring. There are different types. These are normally informal. This quotation by Erik Erikson sums up this type of Mentoring:

 “And cultural anthropologists tell us that almost every society has had “elders” of some kind. Whether they be tribal chieftains, village headmen, clan leaders or family patriarchs — most every social unit across history and around the globe has clearly recognized adult role-models or Wisdom Figures. These are generally older, more experienced, stronger members of the group to whom the younger look for identity.”

 Sadly, however, my observation seems to indicate that this type of role is conspicuously absent from our modern culture, at least informal social structures. Nevertheless, informally, sometimes even subconsciously, we long for mentors. We seem to do better when they are in our lives. Plus this warning: when we don’t find positive mentors, by default negative ones usually find us!  And these are abundant and they are the ones that most of us, especially our youngsters are attracted to.

 Because we are all mentors, we should not be afraid, shy or even proud to approach fellow sisters that we want to be mentored by. We will develop a certain type of togetherness that can only benefit both parties.


 Both the mentor and mentee need to agree on the boundaries of the mentoring relationship. The principal guide will be the fact that the mentoring process is to help develop the individual. So normally a mentor should not be overloaded by personal problems. Mentors should not be like Agony aunties unless the mentor has specifically said that that role is okay. Matters discussed should have relevance to these development issues and may have fundamental links to the mentee’s personal and performance objectives

Spiritual Mentors

I have written on how to be a spiritual mentor as well and have used examples of powerful men and women in the Bible. Regrettably, I have removed this part from this paper, because of the mixed audience, however, individuals can meet me during break and I will get your addresses and make a copy available to you.
Both spiritual and the transformational type of modelling can safely be concluded to have a lot to do with personal development. 

How mentoring differs from other forms of personal development.

 Modern or Transformational Mentoring is not to be confused with:

 Traditional Mentoring – usually long-term, has a broad focus and is geared mainly on organisational needs.

Developmental Alliances – also long-term and have a broad focus, but which emphasises the needs of the individual. This is a relationship of equals, where there is no mentor & mentee and no advice is given.

Coaching – this is short term and focused on specifics, but which deals with issues that concern the individual.

Modern or Transformational Mentoring is long term with a broad focus. The roles of mentor and mentee emphasise equality.


What's in it for me? I hear you ask:

Here are some of the benefits of participating in a mentoring scheme.

For a mentee a mentoring relationship can help in the following ways:

  • For recently appointed managers or those new to the organisation, help in adjusting to the new job and to the organisational culture.
  • Increasing confidence in and awareness of abilities and strengths particularly in response to conflicting demands within the organisation.
  • Developing knowledge and skills that will enhance the person’s managerial role.
  • Advice and support on the development of their career and creating opportunities for advancement.
  • For women who want a shoulder to cry on, advise on anything,  the mentor will probably provide it or know someone who can.
  • For our youngsters who want direction and focus in life, a mentor would provide additional advice from that provided by the sometimes misunderstood parents.
  • For the mentor, there can be a number of benefits including:
  • Improved job satisfaction, through supporting others in their development and tapping into their own knowledge and experience.
  • Organisational and peer recognition for the contribution made to increasing managerial performance.
  • Providing opportunities for new perspectives on and approaches to organisational culture and processes.
  • An opportunity to work with newer managers and impart shared values and good practice.
  • Developing own abilities as managers particularly through revisiting and updating skills that may or may not be used.
  • Chance to help someone other than a member of your family. Think about the satisfaction and blessings.
  • Enables knowledge to be put into practice
  • Frees individuals, allowing them to move forward
  • Enables people to identify opportunities available  & meet challenges
  • Introduces individuals to a wider network


What training or support is available

  • There is a range of supporting initiatives available to both mentors and mentees who are interested in becoming involved in the mentoring programme. These include:
  • Full training provided by various organisations
  • Ongoing support from training officers
  • If you are interested in being involved in this initiative, either as a mentor or mentee, or would like further information please contact Aberdeen Women’s Group.

 Thank you for your time and for listening.


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