Things to Know About Mentoring


 Click HERE to review IMA Mentor Program Standards.


1. What’s the Difference Between a “Quality” and an “Effective” Mentoring Program?

You might be surprised to know that there are some critical distinctions. They are critical because they are fundamental to the way you improve your program and practices.

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2. What is Mentoring?

The Range of Possibilities

Mentoring is an age-old method of supporting development that we find in business, education, and all areas of life, with adults and with youth. In most of the comments provided here, the context is a career or job-focused one, suggesting that mentoring is for adults in professional settings. The reader should appreciate that all the advice given here directly translates to youth mentoring as well, though the specific language used may need adjustment for that setting.

With that understanding, mentoring can occur any time during a career, but especially when someone seeks to learn from someone else who has experience in the topic for learning.

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3. What is the Best Goal of Mentoring?

This concept of career-long learning means that people in pre-employment education and training, new employees in orientation and training (or induction), experienced employees, middle managers, and executives should all have mentors.

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4. Who would be the mentor for all those people?

Just as we all need to be mentored so that we are continually learning, we all also need to be a mentor. That is necessary because of the high level of support needed to sustain continual, organization-wide learning and growth.

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5. How is coaching different from mentoring? Is it best to do both?

Coaching is the support for learning job-related skills that are provided by a colleague who uses observation, data collection, and descriptive, non-judgmental reporting on specific requested behaviors and technical skills. The coach also must use open-ended questions to help the other employee more objectively see his or her own patterns of behavior and to prompt reflection, goal-setting, planning, and action to increase the desired results.

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6. How are coaching and mentoring different from supervision?

Supervision is the process of employee development, management, and evaluation that is used by a boss. People can grow as a result of supervision, at least to the point that the possibility of losing one’s job is a motivation for growth. Learning in a supervisory situation is often a very high-risk circumstance. If employees share their weaknesses or needs with a supervisor, they risk poor evaluations and dismissal. That is why supervision often is not very effective. The risk-taking needed for learning and growth are not likely to occur.

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