This is a piece taken from Chapter 4 of my upcoming book “Mentoring programme design: A practical guide to getting it right the first time” (publication date aim is April) which talks about the importance of being very clear on what mentoring is and what it is not. And I’m not talking about the difference between mentoring and coaching although that is always an interesting discussion. I’m referring to the different perceptions and therefore practices of mentoring that organisations adopt, and individuals engage in.

I am a true believer that mentoring is a way of being, a way of communicating and an attitude. Mentors are pivotal to quality mentoring experiences for the mentee. Who that mentor is, the genuineness of their intent to support another person in becoming who they want to be and believing in themselves determines whether someone is mentoring or not. Here is my comparison……

A mentoring relationship includes:

  • Empathic listening
  • Skilful  questioning
  • Sharing experience
  • Mutual learning
  • Developing insight through reflection
  • Encouraging independent thought, decisions and action
  • Championing
  • Coaching
  • Guiding

A mentoring relationship is never:

  • Counselling
  • Appraisal
  • Therapy
  • Inhibiting
  • Paternalistic
  • Impeding
  • Blocking
  • Discipline
  • Performance management
  • Assessment for a third party