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The Growing Power of Mentoring.

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THE GROWING POWER OF MENTORING Suddenly, the word mentoring is on everyone's lips. In the United States, organisations in all sectors are breathing new life into a concept that had been seen as a management fad of the 80s. In the UK, the Government has called a working party to co-ordinate mentoring in a wide variety of community schemes, including a new venture to provide thousands of schoolchildren with personal mentors. In Eire, thousands of difficult to employ young people are being coaxed into the working environment through an ambitious mentoring scheme. In Scandinavia and Western Europe, companies are experimenting with mentoring for the benefit of a wide variety of employees, from new recruits to people approaching retirement. At the World Bank in Washington, mentoring is addressing the intercultural tensions inherent in an organisation of highly talented, culturally diverse people. Wherever you look around the world, mentoring is becoming part of the solution to issues of community or business development. In Australia, employers in both the public and private sectors have launched innovative programmes. Among them, the Education Board of the State of Victoria, which has achieved great results in opening up senior positions in education to women. Executives across the country have suddenly found they can't do without a mentor to guide and challenge them on how they do their jobs. What's the reason for this sudden upsurge of interest and activity in a concept that has been around for a good 20 years? Several drivers have come together. Among them: Increasing emphasis on self development For a variety of mostly good reasons, organisations are attempting to place the responsibility for managing career and personal development squarely on the shoulders of the individual employee. In theory, at least, this benefits both parties. The employee is empowered to take more control of what happens to them in a career that is less and less likely to be with just one or two employers, and the organisation is able to concentrate its HR resources on creating opportunities for learning rather than sending people on courses. ...read more.


One way of defining mentoring, therefore, is by its boundaries. The behaviours a mentor adopts draw upon a variety of other roles. Coaching, for example, is a relatively directive means of stretching someone (the coach is in charge). But mentors share with coaches key behaviours such as being a critical friend, showing the mentee how to do something, and challenging their beliefs and assumptions. Similarly, mentors share with workplace counsellors a concern to help people plan their development and career paths, to listen, empathise and be a sounding board. They do not, however, adopt some of the other activities of a counsellor, such as behavioural therapy - even if they have the competence to do so - because that is out of role. A wild garden of applications The following are some of the most innovative schemes from the files of The European Mentoring Centre, which maintains an extensive library and annual research conference on mentoring. A programme for young ex-offenders in a deprived area of Birmingham with very high levels of recidivism used local community volunteers as mentors. The mentors, many of whom were long-term unemployed, were tasked with helping the young people rebuild their lives. After two years, none of the 38 young people on the scheme had re-offended. Moreover, the mentors had gained so much personal confidence, that most of them had also found permanent work. Nestle in Norway uses retired employees as mentors to help people nearing retirement make the transition. ASDA, a large UK-based supermarket chain, provides mentors for new superstore managers six months before their new job and six months after. Proctor and Gamble in the US had a major retention problem with women in junior and middle management in its marketing department. At first, the company planned a standard "glass ceiling" programme, where senior executives would "adopt" more junior women to show them how to behave. Then someone pointed out that the problem was more with the organisation than with the women and that the culture of the organisation was defined and sustained by these same executives. ...read more.


They take care in matching to manage the hierarchy gap between mentor and mentee. Too small and there is often insufficient difference in perspective and experience for much learning to occur; too big and it is difficult for mentor and mentee to relate to the issues each faces. They train mentors and mentees thoroughly at the beginning of the relationship and provide developmental support at intervals thereafter. In environments, where it is not possible to get people away for two days at a time, they break the training into shorter modules. People who don't attend the training don't get assigned mentees (or mentors). They also educate line managers, to capture their active support for the mentoring relationship. Some companies now run continuous personal development clinics for mentors, for a few hours every two to three months. These are facilitated by an outsider, who helps the mentors help each other. They expand mentoring beyond the initial target group(s) as fast as the expanding pool of mentors will allow. In organisations undergoing rapid cultural change, managers representing the new values may be in short supply, so the process may initially be slow. But the mentees over a period become the new supply of mentors and it is not uncommon to see a sudden explosion of mentoring as volunteers become available. The bottom line Mentoring is rapidly maturing as a mainstream developmental activity. Already, companies in the UK are finding that they cannot recruit the quality of graduates (and particularly post-graduates) they want, if they do not have a mentoring scheme. While the success rate and impact of mentoring is very high initially, organisations need to work at it to ensure it maintains a head of steam. International experience is providing a great deal of good practice, on which organisations can draw in designing, implementing and sustaining their mentoring schemes. Module DM48 Development Teams and Individuals Submitted by Mr.D McColl - 1 - ...read more.

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