Well-designed and managed mentoring initiatives can have immense value both for helping individuals achieve their potential and for organisations – for example, in retention of talent and achievement of diversity and inclusion aspirations. Unfortunately, many initiatives are ineffective. Some of the key reasons are:
1) Inadequate preparation of mentors and mentees. Good practice involves training both in their respective roles and how to manage the relationship. Without this preparation, mentors and mentees often have significantly different expectations.
2) Confusion of mentoring and sponsorship. Although some early US studies of career help conflated these two roles, we now know that they are different and largely incompatible. Mentoring requires a level of openness and authenticity in dialogue that is difficult to achieve when one party is looking to the other to promote their career.
3) Confusion between giving context and giving advice. Mentoring is rooted in wisdom – the archetype of a mentor was Athena, the goddess of wisdom. Giving context is about providing information that helps someone with the quality of their thinking; giving advice is doing the thinking for them.
The International Standards for Mentoring and Coaching Programmes from EMCC Global provide a strong basis for designing impactful mentoring interventions.
© David Clutterbuck 2023