Mentoring Explained

Mentoring shares quite a few traits with coaching, and yet there are also several important differences.

As with coaching, mentoring takes its cues from the client’s needs, which set the agenda for the work mentor and client will be doing together. A successful mentor takes a similar approach to the working relationship with the client, such as ensuring sessions are safe and confidential to stimulate exploring opportunities and options, and having a non-judgmental stance on whatever the client decides to do next. A mentor too expects their client to be proactive and self-motivated, just like with coaching.

The role of the mentor is different to that of the coach where it concerns giving advice. A mentor is specifically selected by the client because of their experience and expertise in a field that is relevant to the client, so that they can benefit from the mentor’s professional background.

A mentor who has a deep understanding of the mentoring process skilfully navigates the tension between advice-giving and not being personally 'invested' in any of the options open to the client. This is not at all easy, especially when the mentor's experience tells them their mentee may be opting for something they would have avoided themselves! 

A trusting relationship between mentor and mentee is a prerequisite to a successful collaboration.