Issue No. 7 - October/November 2002
Mentoring in the Workplace
by Gyna McCard
Many employers believe that mentoring in the workplace is integral to the personal and professional development of staff and the growth of their business. The majority of mentoring relationships over the past years has been quite informal, however, there is a definite shift in organisations today to formalise this relationship by engaging the services of a qualified and experienced Mentor.
The role of a mentor is to challenge, teach, counsel, encourage and advise. A significant part of the mentor’s role is to assist their protégé identify their own strengths and weaknesses and then encourage and motivate the protégé to develop themselves.
Employers are also establishing mentor programs within their organisation and training senior staff to take on the role of a mentor for the more junior staff. Mentor programs may be established to assist individuals in their personal development and to achieve their career goals or to assist a project team in completing a specific workplace project.
It is important that management is very clear about what is expected from a mentoring program, the level of interpersonal skills that currently exists, resources available to support the program and what other initiatives are in place to compliment or hinder a mentoring program.
Open communication is vital to the success of a mentoring program. Whether directly involved in the program or not, managers must know why the program has been established and the expectations of the program, particularly if their own staff is involved. Trust and confidentiality between both parties is also critical to the success of the program. Personal issues may be discussed throughout the program and both parties must feel they can trust each other.
Clear objectives must be determined and an evaluation process established. The role of the mentor must be well defined and will vary depending on the program objectives, the culture of the organisatio...