The name comes from Mentor, a person in ancient history appointed by a powerful king to look after the intellectual, social and moral development of his son. Today the term is often used to describe someone who undertakes a similar but not identical role in the workplace.
Formal Mentoring schemes
These exist in some large organisations. Here a senior experienced manager offers to act as mentor to new entrants. Often those offered such an opportunity to have a mentor are fast track staff destined for higher management.
The mentor is not normally in the line management chain of those they mentor. Ideally the person mentored chooses the mentor. But whatever the logistics of this matching it is vital that the two agree to it and can develop a close and honest relationship.
This is a role which is similar and a lot more common. The role is sometimes known as being a "Minder" or a "Buddy". Often they are appointed by the boss to look after a new member to the team. Sometimes the role is totally informal and people offer themselves to take on the role without any prompting from the boss.
The mentoring colleague role is often seen as "something we would do anyway" but it is often that attitude that devalues its worth. There are many ways in which mentoring colleague can help people work well including:
- Explaining "rules" of the office/protocol/tradition.
- Agreeing personal targets for development/training.
- Making sure that colleagues are clear about what standards of
behaviour or conduct are required, e.g. dress/language/familiarity
- Monitoring/reviewing personal progress against targets and
providing feed back.
- Evaluating individualís development, and identifying need for
any further involvement, knowing when to let "go".
- Giving feedback on how they are fitting in and why.
- Do as I do ó use congruent behaviour as a role model.