Relationship is key to mentorships and relationships are dependent upon trust, both of which are built over time. Building trust requires openness and vulnerability. Both parties have to find common ground, and create a foundation from which to start. Mentors must be willing to share about themselves, listen, ask questions, have empathy and offer encouragement. At the same time the mentee must be open and vulnerable as well, and commit to a process that will require at least a two-year period of time. It is most successful when mentees are able to choose their own mentor. “Assigned mentors can help, but the best relationships are based on choice and built on liking, trust and reciprocity”.
In today’s world of business, we see organizations investing in, and supporting mentoring relationships. “The process of mentoring can best be described in eight words: lead, follow and get out of the way! Leading is showing and advising the mentee, imparting wisdom and sharing their life experiences with the mentee. They provide perspective, which can help us avoid organizational pitfalls. Peddy posits that as the learner progresses in the process, the mentor subtly steps back and follows a safe distance behind, allowing the mentee to lead while still having the immediate support of the mentor. This is a process that occurs over time and allows the mentee to build confidence and self-efficacy. The mentor must be aware of and recognize the moment when the mentee will “fly” and will no longer need the same mentoring relationship with them.
Mentorships are generally good for individuals and organizations and mentors report benefiting from mentorships as well. Positive outcomes of mentorships are, increased job satisfaction, leading to decreased turnover intent, satisfaction with pay, advanced opportunities and work, and an enhanced self-concept.
Typically, mentors are selected from outside the organization due to possible conflicts of interest. Especially when the mentor is a supervisor to the mentee. Shirley Peddy, Ph.D., in Secrets of the Jungle writes, “Be guided by the wisdom of others until others seek you out to learn what you know.” Recognizing what experience, practice and wisdom can be passed on in knowledge exchange is a valuable resource if a mentee is committed to see the process through.
The bottom line? “Relationships count!” They count in business and in life. We all need to be connected to a source. “Some people are torches and some are lamps. Both are sources of light, but the difference is important. Torches use up their own fuel and burn out while lamps are plugged into a continuously renewing energy source”. Building relationships helps us become lamps.
Mentorships are typically viewed as something that meets the needs of the mentee. In this mentorship dyad there must be goals for and by the mentor and for the mentee. Reciprocity is one characteristic of a mentoring relationship. “Mentoring is circular…the mentor learns as much as the one to be mentored, the richest possible experience,” and according to Frances Hesselbein, “it does not end”. Many mentoring relationships move forward and become friendships that last a lifetime but some, as mentioned by Shirley Peddy in, The Art of Mentoring become more like someone you wave at when you happen to see him at the airport.
Mentors have the privilege of sharing their experience and knowledge. They have a captive audience with whom to share their stories. Mentors gain satisfaction and growth from mentoring others and expand their perspectives as a result. In the mentoring role mentors have to nurture the relationship in a way that facilitates the learning process and helps the mentee develop a capacity to self-direct until the mentee is ready to assume the full degree of responsibility.
 (Peddy, S., 2001)
 (Pettenger et al., 2000)
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 (Goldsmith, et al., 20120
 (Peddy, S., 2001)
 (Fischler, et al., 2009)