Mentorship in an Organizational Setting

As the owner of HIREghana (www.HIREgh.com) and an active recruiter, my associates and I are also involved in mentoring, coaching and counselling of candidates from all sort of seniority levels. And as a HRM & OD Consultancy, we are also involved in setting up corporate mentorship programmes and trainings.

So, all items and recommendations in this article source from our experience as practitioners in both side of Mentorships: that of the Mentor and the other one of the Mentee.

What is Mentoring?
According to CIPD:
“Mentoring involves the use of the same models and skills of questioning, listening, clarifying and reframing associated with coaching.

Traditionally, however, mentoring in the workplace has tended to describe a relationship in which a more experienced colleague uses his or her greater knowledge and understanding of the work or workplace to support the development of a more junior or inexperienced member of staff.”

What is Coaching?
Again, according to CIPD:
“Coaching targets high performance and improvement at work and usually focuses on specific skills and goals, although it may also have an impact on an individual’s personal attributes such as social interaction or confidence. The process typically lasts for a relatively short defined period of time, or forms the basis of an on-going management style.”

Mentoring vs Coaching: the difference.
A lot of people seem to confuse Mentoring and Coaching. Instead of writing endless paragraphs, I am putting all in the table below.

Mentoring versus Coaching

(© 2018 Irene Gloria Addison & Human Intelligence Recruitment Ltd)

Mentoring Coaching
A Mentoring is an ongoing relationship that spans aver a long period of time Coaching because it has a specific target, it also has a specific set duration too
Ideally is more informal– Meetings take place when the mentee needs advice/ guidance Coaching is more structured in nature; meetings are scheduled on a regular basis
Since it’s a long-term activity by nature: it has a broader scope taking into account the mentee as a person Time-bounded and focused on specific development areas/issues
Mentor is more experienced and qualified than the mentee A Coach can be just an expert in a particular subject area. E.g. interviewing process & relevant skills
Focus is usually both on career and personal development Focus is specifically on work issues/ development; but it can also be on personal issues/challenges
The Mentor is usually a senior person in the organization who can pass on knowledge and experience Coaching is very specific and skills-focused. The coached person is basically a ‘client’.
And excellent Mentor will also open doors -for the mentee- to otherwise out-of-reach opportunities Coaching rarely opens doors, that depends on the Coach’s personality- thus don’t take it as a given
Agenda is set by the mentee: the mentor provides just support/ guidance to prepare them for future Coaching Agenda should always be focused on achieving specific, immediate & measurable goals
A good Mentor works on developing the mentee as a full professional, looking at all aspects. The excellent Coach directly resolves specific development issues of the ‘client’

 

From now on in this article, whenever I mention Mentoring, I will imply Coaching too (since you know read the differences). I will not be focusing nor addressing Counselling (= helping an individual to improve performance by resolving situations from the past) nor imply it when I talk about mentorship.

Corporate Mentorships failures: 11 Reasons
Mentorship like any other relationship requires a clear definition of a expectations from both parties and a clear sense of purpose. These clarifications will help the mentee to achieve his/her goal of the mentoring relationship. In the business world, we never see a company advertise their failures, and even when the failures are turned into best practices and case studies for business students that happens years later and it is mostly about business processes. I just searched the Harvard Business School’s Case Study Database of over +70,000 business and management materials, and HBS did not have a single Case Study on mentorship of their own

Mentoring programmes / relationships do fail from a variety of causes:

  1. Formal Corporate Policy and Supoort for Mentorships. Sure the management team of a company has to commit to a corporate mentorship program, but the line managers have to be engaged to and not been seen as another fruitless HR exercise.
  2. Poor Matching between Mentors & Mentees
  3. Official Mentoring time allowance: mentors and mentees should be able to take working time out for their meetings; they should not be penalized for not investing that time to create billable hours.
  4. Training of both the Mentors and the Mentees: “The most impactful training scenario however is when both the mentor and mentee receive training on how to manage their mentoring relationship, in which case one can expect a 90% success rate.
  5. Mentoring the Mentors
  6. In-House Mentor-Community. Been a Mentor is a very lonely ‘activity/ profession’
  7. Clarity of expectations: This is the most common issue: most relationships fade away within a few months, because both sides wait for the other person to tell them what they should do.
  8. Clarity of purpose about the programme: Why is there (or will be) a mentorship programme in place, why it is really being done, what is it expected of all participants, what are the respective roles and responsibilities of mentor and mentee are, and what are the desired outcomes.
  9. Adjustable Mentoring: for example a summer intern or a fresh- out- of- college employee requires a different approach from that for a senior professional/ manager/ executive. Always take into account the level of maturity and experiences of the mentee.
  10. No commitment from thementees for the duration of the entire program and teh agreed checkpoints/ deadlines
  11. ‘Ghanaian’ Jealousy: Sometimesa mentoring program cannot include every possible mentee due to size limitations. Occasionally, the ones who do end up participating in such programs, they might experience slight resentment from those peers/ colleagues who are not in the program. You will see those peers/ colleagues either criticize the very program they themselves applied to be part of; sometimes they will openly express their resentment that the mentee can leave work to attend a meeting or they will ‘hinter’ on what the mentoring “relationship” is all about.

But, you can overcoming this challenge: by having your organization itself been fully  transparent regarding the mentorship program and how to get involved.

You can also have both Mentors and mentees sharing information about the program (e.g., handouts, internal and external links/ websites, articles like this one, etc) to all peers/ colleagues

By the way, this jealousy / resentment behavior is not exclusive to Ghana. It is just a basic human nature reaction.

Link all Trainings with Mentoring

It always amazes me when companies plan, source and pay a lot of money for employee training, but they fail to link the freshly trained employees with internal (or even external) mentors.

That should be the case for both soft skill and technical training courses. Even for management and leadership ones – those expensive tireless teaching of leadership have yet to bring leadership nirvana to any Ghanaian organization.

And, is there a reason why your in-house Mentors should not get involved in interviewing/ pre-selecting/ approving any of your training providers?  They are the ones who really know what their mentees truly need

Do CEOs have mentors/ coaches?
Of course they do. Everybody can have a mentor regardless of age or seniority level. Basically Executive Coaching is a whole industry on its own! But a CEO is a lonely role and if s/he has a good relationship with his/ her Board of Directors, the BoD are ideally his/her ultimate mentors.

Next Steps 
Go out there and mentor someone who has less experience than you. If you are a bit shy, there are a lot of online sites who will help you find a mentee.

Looking for a mentor? Use LinkedIn or approach people with respect, and work on building and maintaining a good relationship with your Mentor, even if s/he lives at the Edge of the Universe (I always wanted to write that). Again, there are plenty of websites where you can find a mentor and most of them are free (sponsored by nonprofits).

If someone helped you in your career when you were taking the lift up, maybe now is the time to pay it forward.

Reach out and help people please. Mentor them. Ghana needs you!

Irene welcomes your feedback/ comments/ remarks/ suggestions via your email message to Press {at} HIREgh . com.

© 2018 Irene Gloria Addison and © 2018 Human Intelligence Recruitment


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