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If asked to define mentorship, many people will vaguely describe the concept, likely stating that it involves communication and is relationship-based. Several business sources go further by defining mentoring as a professional relationship in which an experienced person (mentor) guides another person (mentoree or mentee) in developing specific skills and knowledge that will enhance the less-experienced person’s professional and personal growth.
True mentoring in our industry is more than just answering intermittent questions or providing occasional help by a more experienced and knowledgeable person. It is about an ongoing relationship of learning, dialogue and challenges that are relevant to a person’s professional and personal development.
First, it is important to understand there is formal and informal mentoring. These are different in their approaches and outcomes, yet are often confused.
Informal mentoring occurs all the time and can be a powerful experience. However, the goals of the relationship are not specified, outcomes are not measured, access is limited or may be exclusive and the mentors/mentees select each other on the basis of personal chemistry. It is accessible only to a few people and its benefits are limited only to those few who participate.
Formal or structured mentoring takes the education to the next level and expands its usefulness to incorporate value beyond that of a single mentor-mentee pairing.
The goals are established from the beginning, outcomes are measured, access is open to all who meet some criteria and the mentors/mentees are paired based on compatibility (the ability…