Coaching and Mentoring
The mentoring relationship
Mentoring is a protected relationship in which learning and experimentation occur through analysis, examination, re-examination and reflection on practice, situations, problems, mistakes and successes (of both the mentors and the mentees) to identify learning opportunities and gaps.
Mentoring is about helping the learner/mentee to grow in self confidence and develop independence, autonomy and maturity.
The mentoring relationship is a special relationship where two people make a real connection with each other. In other words they form a bond. It is built on mutual trust and respect, openness and honesty where each party can be themselves. It is a powerful and emotional relationship. The mentoring relationship enables the mentee to learn and grow in a safe and protected environment.
The quality of the relationship is crucial to a successful outcome; if bonding does not occur and one or both of the two parties are not comfortable within the relationship then neither learning nor mentoring will be sustained. A good relationship recognises the need for personal development and the partners have some idea of where they want to go.
In the early stages the mentee will be relatively dependent and the mentor will need to be supportive, helpful, friendly and encouraging to nurture the mentee to learn and grow. However the time will come when the relationship will change and subsequently the mentor’s role will need to change. As the mentee becomes more confident and independent, and in order to sustain and deepen learning, the mentor will need to challenge, stimulate and encourage reflection.
Too much challenge and stimulation at the beginning can overawe and alienate the mentee, too little later on can instil learning and stimulation & cause the relationship to end without total fulfilment.
Mentoring is not a crutch and must not remain a dependent relationship or become an excuse just for a chat session.
Effective orientation of mentors, mentees, line managers and any other stakeholders prior to commencement
Developmental diagnosis i.e. auditing of mentee’s needs and requirements
Provision of training and support for both mentors and mentees which should include clear learning outcomes; monitoring and evaluation; rewards, e.g. structured follow-up and the ownership of those involved
Shared expectations between mentor and mentee
Good communications structures between all players
Careful and appropriate selection and matching and pairing of partners
Monitoring and evaluation of the program linked to the defined objectives and anticipated outcomes of the scheme, involving feedback from all stakeholders.
Feedback should be triangulated and based on periodic consultation of individuals and representative focus group
Ensuring confidentiality is integral to the systems and administration of the programme
The provision of adequate space, financial and personnel resources & quality, focused time
Setting a time limit in advance for the mentoring relationships, after which the relationship may continue outside the programme
Devising a set of learning objectives
Establishing specific working arrangements to enhance benefits of support scheme, e.g. same work shifts