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The Fine Art of a Mentoring Program

Mentoring is not the same as teaching. Very often, people misconstrue mentors to be the same as teachers. Employees can find mentors in professional and personal lives.

A mentor is not just a teacher. Nor is he a coach or trainer. The job of a mentor encompasses more than that of a teacher and coach. A mentor literally takes his mentee under his wing and is morally responsible for the development of the student. A mentor is not just involved in imparting technical knowledge to his students. He is also involved in the emotional and spiritual development of the student. A mentor can have an involved relationship with the mentee than the relationship with a coach. A mentor is like a godfather for the mentee in the organization.

It is very difficult to nurture and manage a mentor and mentee relationship. Not every senior employee is equipped to play the role of a mentor. The job of a mentor is very demanding. However, organizations that encourage mentorship go a long way in building their human capital. Organizational structures are stronger because of mentors. Corporate mentors can build healthy climates for employees with a positive mentoring program.

A mentor participates in the transition of the employee's organizational growth and is actively involved in the establishment of the employee's new organizational roles. A mentor helps the mentee chart out long term career goals with the organization and stimulates the mentee to enhance work competencies.

A mentor is a person who has a vast repertoire of experience in the field that he trains. Mentors have had both experience and professional training in the subject that he has to mentor. For instance leadership mentors need to have adequate experience as leaders and should have undergone leadership training themselves.

What do mentors offer to their students that formal training sessions cannot offer? For one, the mentors can use personal experiences as lessons for students. Moreover, mentors are capable of resolving dynamic issues due to their abundant knowledge and experience in the field. A training program cannot possibly prepare students to face unexpected challenges. Mentors can vary their training depending on the nature of their students and the different levels of complexity faced by the mentee.

A mentor need not be an immediate superior or for that matter belong to the same department. Cross department mentoring is very common and often encouraged. With a mentor from another department, needless office politics don't creep into the relationship. Moreover, the mentee finds a mentor at a similar position of power as that of his boss. The mentor-mentee relationship is often less autocratic, but more compassionate. There could be conflicts of viewpoint between them but it does not hurt their relationship in any way.

A mentor grooms his students to take on higher responsibilities and face all odds that surface in the journey. Mentors have to prepare their students to tackle organizational roadblocks, power games, bad will, subordinate resistance and other such challenges.

The relationship of a mentor and a mentee can extend well beyond the mentoring program. Some mentoring relationships end as per the agreement made by organizations. Some could end even more abruptly if the relationship does not work out amicably. In any case, it is the duty of the mentor to formally close the relationship and ensure that the termination of the relationship does not affect the student's achievements.

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