Being Mentored: What’s in it for you?

To all mentors out there, thank you very much for your work; you

guys are doing a great job!

I realize, as I write this article, that many times society fails to thank or appreciate or recognize what ‘everyday’ people are doing to make other’s liv

es more meaningful and productive

. A lot of negative stuff happens around us on a daily basis and we seem not to notice that good stuff is just as widespread, if we care to look a little closer. Even when we get to compliment someone it mostly turns out to be a high-profile person or someone in an influential position. Yet, it is the ordinary people we meet in the streets, at work or in the lift who make the most impact in our lives. The father w

ho protects his family from danger, the mother who cleans a child’s wound, the teacher who ensures the students meet the pass mark, the gardener who tends to the flowers that bring joy on Valentine’s Day, the kiosk-owner who makes milk and bread available just across the street, the watchman who maintains security at the gate…the list is endless. How often do we thank them? Well, that’s why I thought it a good idea to thank the people who play the role of mentors in our lives.

Now that that’s done let’s turn our attention to the

mentored. If you are being mentored or seeking a mentor you might want to consider what benefits can be derived from such an arrangement. After all, you are committing your time and energy to the process so it should yield something worthwhile.

Mentoring affords you an exclusive learning experience that in some cases you do not even have to pay for. Take for example, a weekly meeting with your supervisor at work to tackle any problems you may have encountered and find solutions to implement together. It’s exclusive because it is not open to everyone out there and you get individual attention. The learning environment created by mentorship is one in which you are allowed to make mistakes and be corrected gently; a non-threatening approach.

Being mentored in a group setting opens the door for new partnerships and networking opportunities. For instance, when you attend professional forums or training seminars you meet new people who have the same passion as you do. This gives you the opportunity to exchange ideas, information, experiences and even potential business contacts.

Improved self-confidence is another benefit of being mentored. Knowing that somebody believes in you, supports you and is willing to go the extra mile in ensuring your success in life goes a long way in building your sense of self-worth and confidence.

Your social skills are also likely to get a boost from the mentoring process as you interact more closely with your mentor or with people in a forum. The mentoring relationship provides an opportunity for constant communication in the form of feedback, questions and answers. In some cases there are activities involved, like team building or working on a project together, all of which have an impact on how you relate with others.

These are just a few of the potential benefits and are by no means exhaustive. Perhaps you have experienced something more or something different than these; feel free to share your own experience.

If you would like to write it as an article, just send it to me (yourwritingworld@gmail.com) with the subject Benefits of being Mentored and I will publish it as a guest post.

What is your experience on being mentored?

People go through different experiences in the mentoring process; care to share yours?

It may have been at school, college, home, work or church. Sometimes what we share openly and honestly can help somebody else either understand or stop struggling with their own issues. When another person realizes that someone else is facing what they are going through, it helps them become stronger.

This is not to indicate that I am looking for negative experiences only; on the contrary the more positive experiences shared, the more encouragement is passed on.

Your sharing can take the form of a comment or if you feel you can write a whole article on it just send it to me (yourwritingworld@gmail.com) with the subject MY MENTORING EXPERIENCE and I will be glad to publish it here. You may or may not include a name or pseudo-name.

Thanks.

What is the expectation on a mentee in a mentoring process?

You may be asking yourself, if I agree to be mentored by someone else, what is expected of me?

 

First of all, you need to keep in mind the reason for which you are being mentored. Mentoring takes place for various reasons and in different contexts, factors which will affect the type of relationship and the expectations on you as the mentee. For instance, if it is a work-based mentoring process you may be required to report regularly to your mentor, progress on something that you have been given to work on. However, there are general expectations regardless of the type of mentoring relationship. Here are three important ones:

 

Be teachable:
The mentoring process will be much easier if there is willingness to learn, on the part of the mentee. In other words, put on humility. Allow yourself to be corrected and trained. Let it be a learning experience and you will be happier. Actually, both mentee and mentor will be happier!

 

Be available:
When a mentoring process begins, certain parameters are usually agreed upon that will govern the relationship so that it benefits the mentee. One of these parameters is time, i.e. how much time both parties are willing to invest in the relationship. Once this is agreed on, ensure that you maintain your end of the bargain. Avoid coming up with many excuses about why you could not turn up for a meeting or training session otherwise you come across as disinterested. Even if certain unexpected issues arise (and sometimes they do) always look for a way out or at the least, inform your mentor if it will affect the time you had planned so that rescheduling can be considered.

 

Be active:
Apply what you have learnt so that both of you can be able to see and evaluate the results of the mentoring process. Remember that information alone does not necessarily lead to wisdom; it is in the application of that information that wisdom comes forth.

Being active also means asking questions where you do not understand as well as taking the initiative to explore new ideas, methods and ways of doing things. All these will add value to the mentoring process.

TYPES OF MENTORING RELATIONSHIPS

In my research, I have discovered that there are different types of mentoring relationships, determined by the kind of arrangement between the two parties – the mentor and the mentored.

First of all, there is Individual vs Group mentoring. Individual mentoring refers to a one-on-one relationship where focus is on one person at a time.

Group mentoring, on the other hand, refers to situations where more than one person is being mentored at a time. This happens a lot in the education and social spheres where a special mentoring program is created to achieve certain objectives in the lives of a group of people. The program may be run by an institution such as the government, a community organization, an NGO, or a school.

There is also Formal vs Informal mentoring. Formal mentoring occurs when there is a deliberate intent to learn, grow or develop wisdom through conversation (from http://www.mentoring-works.com). It is usually more structured and organized, with each party being informed of their boundaries and expectations from the other party. In most cases the mentee is matched with a mentor according to needs, goals, expertise, experience and other factors determined in the mentoring program. Most youth mentoring programs are formal ones. Some people call it Planned mentoring.

Informal mentoring occurs without deliberate intent, as when you happen to listen to a radio program, motivational speaker, friend, or colleague at work and apply their advice or teaching. It usually happens just by chance, even without the mentor being aware. Some people call this Natural mentoring.

Mentoring can also be viewed in terms of context. There is career mentoring, commonly referred to as career coaching, which can occur at the workplace or in the context of work and career.

Mentoring for personal development is usually geared towards becoming a better person as a whole, in terms of character, attitude, and lifestyle. Life-skills training programs fall into this category.

I hope this gives you a better understanding of mentoring.

Next, we will look at the role of the mentor and the mentee.

Essential Qualities of a Good Mentor

If you want one year of prosperity, grow grain,
If you want ten years of prosperity, grow trees,
If you want one hundred years of prosperity, grow people.
(Chinese proverb)

Mentors do not come easy, especially in this century where people are more glued to electronic devices and software applications than to people and relationships. Time for people seems to be such a rare gem nowadays, even within established relationships like families. Yet, we all need to grow in different faucets of life – relationships, career, character, etc.

However, there are some areas of life for which we surely need someone more experienced or knowledgeable to guide us safely to a desired destination. For that reason, mentorship will always be a subject worthy of our attention.

Six qualities I have found to be very valuable for mentoring are:

  • Honesty
  • Reliability
  • Availability
  • Humility
  • Ability (specific to the area of training)
  • Commitment

This list is by no means exhaustive; it only points out the most important qualities that should apply to any kind of mentor in any field. Depending on what kind of mentoring you require, you may need to add a few more qualities so as to receive maximum benefit out of the relationship.

One way to determine well what you need from your mentor is to clearly define your expectations right from the start. Let him/her know what you want out of the relationship, and when. For instance you could say, “At the end of one month, I would like to be able to write quality content for a business website.” From that expectation it is clear that you need a mentor who is competent in website content and is available for that period of one month.

You may not be able to find all of the above qualities in one person but at least you get the idea – don’t settle for just anyone out there to be your mentor. Have certain standards you are looking for.

Let’s Share!

Kindly share with me your thoughts, experiences, or opinions on mentoring. You can do this by filling in the comment box or taking the poll below.

I will be glad to respond as soon as possible, which usually means the next day.

 

Understanding the relationship

mentoring is like sowing precious seed

Are you being mentored? Do you find it difficult to navigate the relationship?

Mentoring is a relationship that needs to be nurtured properly by both parties. The first step to succeeding in a mentoring process is to understand the relationship.

The Mentor

Think of a mentor as a willing teacher who is also going through their own learning process, rather than as a guru who already knows everything and simply ‘talks down’ to his/her trainees. This helps the mentoring relationship to flow more easily and remain simple.

The mentor is there to help you get to where you are going, so it’s not just about criticizing, correcting or instructing. A mentor should be able to offer a helping hand in times of need, at times even sympathizing and empathizing with the mentee.

Do you see this in the person mentoring you? Share your thoughts….