A Mentor was described by David Clutterbuck in 1991 as ‘a more experienced individual willing to share their knowledge with someone less experienced in a relationship of mutual trust…the mentor’s primary function is to be a transitional figure in an individual’s development.’ Although mentoring is interpreted differently depending on the context, the role of experience, and passing this on to support the holistic development of another person, is a common thread.
Over the past few months we have seen a step up in requests to support organisational mentoring schemes. We have delivered a variety of mentoring training programmes which have focussed on how it’s done, and what needs to be in place for it to work well. There are a multitude of different approaches, philosophies, theories and models that we can address in different blogs. Here we have summarised a few key findings from the research literature that suggest why introducing mentoring, either formally or informally, may be worth considering for your organisation.
Mentoring Supports the Leadership Development of Mentors and Mentees
Mentoring develops leadership confidence and capability in the mentee. It encourages the seeking of honest feedback, and highlights the significance of trust in professional relationships. When good practice is applied, Mentoring may have a more significant effect on performance than traditional group-based leadership training. (Lester, Hannah, Harms, Vogelgesang, & Avolio, 2011).
Mentoring Enables Knowledge Management
Mentoring supports the transfer of knowledge from more experienced to less experienced colleagues in the organisation; in addition to the knowledge retention within the organisation, this sharing behaviour leads to improved job satisfaction, retention, and performance. (Hussain, bin Othman, & bin Mansor, 2016).
Mentoring Encourages Two-Way Engagement
Mentors report improved job satisfaction, engagement and performance for themselves; being a mentor is professionally fulfilling, and many report that the learning is a two-way process. (Grima,.Paillé, Mejia, & Prud’homme, 2014).
Mentoring Needs to be Embedded With Good Practice
In order to fully realise individual and organisational benefits, contracting, confidentiality and clear process should all be considered. Ideally the mentor should not contribute to the assessment of performance at work (so preferably not a line manager). “A good mentor should also have good interpersonal skills, adequate time, an open mind and willingness to support the relationship.” (Taherian & Shekarchian, 2008).
When good practice is observed, and both Mentor and Mentee enter into the relationship with commitment and HOW (Honesty, Openness, and a Willingness to Learn), it can be a transformational intervention. There can be additional benefits when Mentor and Mentee work in different organisations or industries, as this enables both to consider different cultural perspectives, and share external knowledge that may help to challenge old methods, mindsets, and the status quo. Although time pressures and modern living don’t typically support the genuine, reflective discussions that occur in mentoring, the literature shows that the benefits for both individuals and their organisations justify the effort many times over.
Clutterbuck, D. (1991). Everyone needs a mentor. CIPD.
Hussain, S., M., bin Othman, A. R., & bin Mansor, M. N. (2016). Mentoring and organizational performance: a review of effects of mentoring on small and medium enterprises. Journal of Business and Social Review in Emerging Economies, 2(2): 143-158.
Lester, P. B., Hannah, S. T., Harms, P. D., Vogelgesang, G. R, & Avolio, B.J. (2011). Mentoring Impact on Leader Efficacy Development: A Field Experiment. Academy of Management learning & education, 10(3): 409-429.
Taherian, K. & Shekarchian, M. (2008) Mentoring for doctors. Do its benefits outweigh its disadvantages?, Medical Teacher, 30 (4): e95-e99.