More about Mentors and Mentoring

Men·tor, n. An experienced and trusted counsellor or guide.

Although the word mentor is generally defined along the lines of the above, there is no simple, all embracing definition of “mentoring” as the term is used in several different ways by different organisations and people across the world. The European Mentoring and Coaching Directive defines it as “help by one person to another in making significant transitions in knowledge, work or thinking”.

In Dormen, the term is taken to mean the following, which follows the general interpretation used by a number of UK mentoring organisations: “Mentoring is a relationship between two parties, where one (the mentor) gives the other (the client/mentee) guidance and support to achieve agreed objectives”.

Hence, mentors use their business experience to help clients review their operations and future plans, bring a fresh perspective to issues, and act as a sounding board. They also provide encouragement and support to help clients achieve their plans, develop key business skills, work on their personal development and build their confidence. They do not give clients advice, act as consultants, or recommend specific actions to clients – who remain totally responsible for their own business decisions at all times. A business mentor has often simply been defined as a “business friend”.

The following diagram illustrates the difference between advising (directive/push) and mentoring (non-directive/pull):

Mentoring versus Advising diagram

 
DIRECTIVE – “PUSH”: SOLVING SOMEONE’S PROBLEM FOR THEM

Telling
Instructing
Giving advice
Offering guidance
Giving feedback
Making suggestions
Asking questions that raise awareness
Summarising
Paraphrasing
Reflecting
Listening to understand

NON-DIRECTIVE – “PULL”: HELPING SOMEONE TO SOLVE THEIR OWN PROBLEM


 

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