Mentorships / Mentors
Mentorship is the influence, guidance, or direction given by a mentor. A mentor is someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person. In an organizational setting, a mentor influences the personal and professional growth of a mentee. Most traditional mentorships have senior employees mentoring more junior employees, but mentors need not be senior to those they assist. What matters is that mentors have experience that others can learn from.
In the education setting, the role of mentorship focuses on guiding students through their academic and career pathways. Mentors have proved beneficial in helping all types of students achieve their personal and professional goals and multiple studies have shown the positive impact of mentorship for the success of minority or underserved students. Mentors can be anyone from an older student, an employer, an academic advisor, a faculty member, or a colloquium advisor. Mentors can assist multiple students at once, and mentorship can either be informal or structured through the institution. The following types of individuals often serve as mentors: academic advisors, career advisors, career coaches, and peer advisors. Mentorship can be done one-on-one, over distance (e.g. asynchronous or virtually), or to a group.
In the workplace setting, mentorship is a widely accepted talent management strategy. Some 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs. There are several common types of mentorship:
- Multiple mentors: A new trend is for a learner to have multiple mentors. This approach can expand the learner’s knowledge, as different mentors typically have different strengths.
- Profession or trade mentor: This type of mentor knows the trends and practices in a particular trade or profession and can help newcomers learn those aspects quickly. They also can assist mentees in networking with others in the trade or profession.
- Industry mentor: This is someone who can focus on both the profession and the industry as a whole.
- Organization mentor: An organization mentor can offer insights and help their mentees understand the politics of organizations. They help acclimate newcomers to the mission, values, strategies, and products within the organization.
- Work process mentor: This type of mentor helps mentees understand day-to-day tasks and helps make the learner’s workday more productive.
- Technology mentor: With rapid changes in the use of workplace technology, technology mentors can help improve performance. They help with technical breakdowns, advise learners on which systems and tools to use, , and coach them in using new technology.
Relationship to Ecosystem
Mentorship can be an important support for learners and workers. In the education setting, mentors can help learners progress along their education and career pathways. In the workplace, mentors can help new workers orient more quickly to their jobs, help them navigate the workplace more efficiently and effectively, develop professional development plans, and guide career transitions.
- Year Up’s mission is to close the Opportunity Divide by providing urban young adults with the skills, experience, and support that will help them reach their potential through professional careers and higher education. Year Up students are ages 18-24 who have a high school diploma or GED but are otherwise disconnected from the economic mainstream. Mentoring is an integral part of the program. Year Up matches each student to a mentor—a working professional—about two months before the students begin their corporate internships. Year Up provides orientation and support to mentors and organizes events that mentors and mentees attend together. The mentors provide additional support as students transition from Year Up to their internship. They encourage continuous learning and problem solving, assist in building and using professional networks, and review mentees’ resumés and college applications.
- The Peer Mentor Program at the University of Virginia provides support to and introduces new students to resources and services to help them adjust academically and socially to the university.
- The European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) is a global body working to develop, promote, define best practices in mentoring, coaching, and supervision. It maintains a range of industry-standard frameworks, rules, and processes for mentorship and related fields.
- Many companies have implemented formal mentoring programs, following a variety of models:
- Deloitte operates an Emerging Leaders Development Program to help train future Deloitte leaders. Each program participant is assigned a partner, principal, or director sponsor who commits to at least two years to help protégés navigate the organization and drive their own careers. Program participants are typically high-performing minority managers, which helps improve inclusivity and diversity at Deloitte.
- Intel focuses on specific knowledge transfer and domain skills that are in demand. The company’s approach recognizes that everyone has something to learn—and teach. Intel’s mentoring program is less formal and more embedded in the culture, resulting in many organic connections.
- Zynga has made mentoring an integral part of its onboarding and development process. The company wants new employees to be challenged and integrated into the culture. It also wants mentors to be challenged through reverse mentoring, with new employees bringing new ideas and an outside perspective. The mentoring program serves as a core part of an employee’s tenure. New hires start with onboarding mentoring, and then transition into mentoring that promotes workplace flexibility and progress. Eventually, mentees become mentors and the whole process repeats itself in an ongoing cycle of knowledge transfer.
Advisor – academic, career, or peer
Counselor / career counselor
Fawal, J. (2018, September 18). The 5 types of mentors you need in your life. ideas.ted.com. Retrieved from https://ideas.ted.com/the-5-types-of-mentors-you-need-in-your-life/
Faggella, L. (2017, October 25). Why Every Student Should Have a Mentor (Opinion). Education Week. Retrieved from https://www.edweek.org/leadership/opinion-why-every-student-should-have-a-mentor/2017/10
Mentors have been around in some form or another since the dawn of time, from ancient Greece, through Hinduism and Buddhism. The practices of learning from one another, and seeking knowledge and advice from those more experienced are engrained in many cultures and settings. In an academic setting, mentors have been part of American universities, formally advising students since the 1800s. Since the 1970s, mentoring has spread in the United States mainly in training contexts, associated with advancing workplace equity for women and minorities. It also has been described as an innovation in American management.
Wikipedia contributors. (2022, October 6). Mentorship. Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mentorship