Guiding people through the right way through life can be a daunting task for any person who is tasked to do it. The mentor (the person who must do the guiding) has a lot of delicate balances to strike: he/she has to be strong enough to reprimand the person who is following him/her (the mentee) when that person isn’t listening or is straying from the right path; on the other hand, he/she must sometimes allow the mentee the chance to stray so that the mentee can gain and learn from the experience. There are many different things that a mentor has to do to guide his/her mentee(s), and these concepts of guidance are covered under coaching and mentoring.
The process of mentoring involves the relationship and bonding between master and pupil, a togetherness that’s more commonly referred to as mentor-mentee relationship. A mentor is usually someone who is more knowledgeable and more wise than the mentee in a given area or subject. The mentor’s task is to be the guide for the inexperienced protégé: as the mentee learns from the mentor, he/she is farther thrust into greatness.
The mentor-protégé relationship has long existed in history and can be of great use in the workplace. For instance, when an employee first enters a company or business, he or she is adopted by someone who has been in the company or business for a long while. Because a new employee might experience culture shock, or might not be prepared for the rigors of the current workplace, the mentor serves as a buffer and guide through how the company or business operates, making the transition easier for the new hire (or mentee).
Still in line with workplace relationships, an existing employee might show potential as someone who could one day lead, or who could move on and be great elsewhere. In this case, a person experienced in the company could informally take on this employee and be his or her mentor. In this relationship, the mentor will teach the mentee the necessary skills to advance in the workplace, so that one day, the mentee might perhaps take the mentor’s place, advance elsewhere in the hierarchy, or move on to another company and do even better.
Now, that we’ve briefly discussed mentoring, let’s take a minute to address the concept of coaching. Coaching is quite different from mentoring. In coaching, a method is employed in which a leader or overseer directs the movements of a person or a group of persons. The instruction and training given are done with a definite end goal in mind. The methods of directing people’s movements and thought process might include giving motivational talks. There are also ways to train people in order to make them perform better, such as through seminars or workshops.
In mentoring, a mentor teaches a mentee how to live better or how to function better. In coaching, perhaps better seen as a more specific method of mentoring, the coach guides his/her team in order for them to meet an end goal. For business or leadership coaches, this will greater overall effectiveness, increased efficiency and productivity, and, thus, increased profits.
There are many different kinds of mentoring and coaching, as well as different techniques associated with each. Take the time to research what type will work best for your workforce.
Does your organization provide coaching and/or mentoring to its employees? If so, how has your staff benefitted from these programs?