What is Mentoring?

We explore what mentoring is and provide a guide on how to mentor effectively.

What is Mentoring« Back to Articles

At PushFar we talk a lot about mentoring. We are a mentor matching, career progression platform, after all. So, we thought we should go back to basics and address one key question – ‘what is mentoring?’. Mentoring is a term thrown around a lot. People speak of having a mentor to help them with their entrepreneurship, with the career progression, sometimes people speak of personal mentoring, professional mentoring and mentoring in the context of coaching. It can be confusing if you’ve not had a mentor or mentored someone else. However, the truth is that mentoring is very simple because there are no official rules to follow and it can be very personal to the two parties involved in a mentoring relationship.

Mentoring, simply put, is the act of one individual offering help and support to another individual.

But what exactly does help and support mean, in the context of mentoring? Well, it can be a whole host of things. At PushFar our focus is on mentoring in the professional context. So, mentoring that we reference puts emphasis on dealing with challenges, learnings and developments in the workplace. Whether they be in dealing with professional politics and conflict, learning and improving skills within a role or position or management training; these are to name but a few areas in which a mentor may help. Mentoring can be carried out in person, on the phone, on a video call or over direct messaging and emails. As we say, there are no official rules to mentoring. While there aren’t any formal rules to what mentoring is and how it works, there are some recommendations that we offer, to try and help both mentors and mentees to make the most from mentoring-

1. Set the Expectations
It’s really important to set the expectations at the start of a mentoring relationship. We can’t emphasise this enough. Knowing what you are entering, both as a mentor and a mentee, is critical to a successful, productive and happy mentoring relationship. Expectation setting is all about the mentor understanding what the mentee is looking for and for the mentee to understand what the mentor is happy to offer, whether this be in time commitments, opportunities offered, training and skills development and learnings. So, at the start, set out what you are both happy with, come to an agreement and go forward from there.

2. Be Realistic
We all like the idea of finding a mentor who will help us to climb the career ladder quicker than we may otherwise do. Realistically, this isn’t going to happen in 99% of cases. Sure, a mentor can advise you on career paths, routes to take and how best to climb a career ladder, but what they can’t do and shouldn’t be expected to do is to promote you.

3. Set Goals and Targets
Having a mentor is great – it can help you to achieve your goals and targets. However, there is no point in having a mentor if you don’t have something to work towards. Goals and targets do not have to be specific, but you should have some idea of them and share that with your mentor too. This goes hand-in-hand with setting expectations. Discuss what you are looking to achieve and what the targets you are looking for help and mentoring support for are.

4. Have an ‘end date’ in mind
We’re not saying you must end a mentoring relationship at a set date, but it is worth discussing an end date at the start. Most mentoring relationships last for 3-6 months but some can go on for a lot longer. In other cases, mentoring can simply be a one-off meeting to discuss specific problems. However long you are looking for mentoring support for (and we would recommend always having a mentor), make sure you discuss a potential end date.

Remember, mentoring is flexible. You don’t have to follow any rules because there aren’t any. However, the above guidelines should help you to understand more about what mentoring is and how you can make the most out of a mentoring relationship. If you would like more information about mentoring and to join our mentor matching platform, click here to pre-register.
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