Mentoring is an increasingly popular concept of learning, development and support. Over the last 20, its use has grown significantly and is continuing to develop within a wide range of settings. In fact 87% of businesses in the UK utilized mentoring according to a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Survey (1999), (Klasen and Clutterbuck 2002).
“In the UK the pace of growth of mentoring increased from the mid- to late 1980s and continued to increase through the 1990s.” (Clutterbuck, 2001, p9)
So what is this phenomenon, mentoring? In this assignment, I will analyse and explore mentoring, highlighting the issues relating to definitions of mentoring, the types of mentoring and application, the process of mentoring and the skills needed to be an effective mentor.
Mentoring is a developmental process, which can occur both naturally and officially to allow an individual to share their experience, knowledge and skills with another individual in order to benefit the latter’s personal and/or professional development. Over the years, academics, authors and practitioners have defined mentoring in many ways, often reflecting the different types and application of mentoring, confusing the issue regarding what mentoring is as a generic model or process.
“Mentoring is one of the best methods to enhance individuals’ learning and development in all walks of life” (Klasen and Clutterbuck, 2002, p1)
“There is considerable confusion over what mentoring is and is not.”
(Clutterbuck, 2001, p2)
Mentoring is very broad and complex, a learning and development process that is difficult to define. It has been likened, over the years, with many arts such as coaching, counselling, advising and teaching. However it becomes clear, when analysing these comparisons further, that mentoring does not represent only one of these arts but actually involves using all of them including other learning and developmental techniques. The arts and skills mentioned above are exercised to various extents at different points in the mentoring process to meet certain objectives. Two very good quotes, which support this, include: -
Many people confuse mentoring with related concepts such as coaching and counselling, and there are significant variations in the practical guidelines on how to ‘do’ mentoring properly. (Klasen and Clutterbuck, 2002, p6)
Mentoring is unique in its place as a method of supporting people in learning and career development in that it does not exclude other methods, but exists alongside them, complementing them and adding value. (Lewis, 2000, p ix)
One of the main reasons behind the confusion or difficulty in defining mentoring is that there are two basic schools of thought on mentoring and how it is best applied. One is of the belief that mentoring should be structured or developmental i.e. a formal, facilitated process that can be managed and monitored. The other, is of the view that mentoring can only occur naturally or when it is just left to happen i.e. an informal process which involves individual choice like sponsoring.
These two differing schools of thought regarding mentoring and its purpose can be portrayed as the American and the European methods or sponsoring (informal) and developmental (formal). (Clutterbuck 2001)
The informal model or ‘view’, more associated with the roots of mentoring, emphasises the need of a more senior, experienced and wiser person, ‘the mentor’, to pass down their skills, knowledge and experience to a younger, ‘passive’ individual appropriately named as a protégé rather than a mentee. The relationship between mentor and protégé is naturally developed often by choice of how and whom the mentor wishes to take under their wing. The pace of the relationship is controlled by the mentor and consists of a more authoritarian and influential approach.
A direct example could be taken from the Craft Guilds model from the middle…