Mentoring Decoded

Mentoring is one core functional aspect organizations try to apply in order to engage in corporate learning, foster relationships within the organization and provide key performers ability to access otherwise out of reach opportunities.  The next few posts will depict varying aspects of mentoring skills, characteristics and benefits to all stakeholder parties. The first of these posts will attempt to portray my viewpoints on the highly discussed origins of mentoring rooted in The Odyssey. It is not an attempt to prove or disprove the significance of Mentor’s role in relation to Homer’s journey.

Mentors are regarded as role models, counselors, trusted advisors, teachers, nurturers, friends, challengers, encouragers and sponsors. Therefore their ability to influence other individuals’ performance and outlook form a substantial part of how the next generation of leaders progress throughout their careers. Mentor in Homer’s Odyssey was a protective, guiding and supportive figure who acted as a wise and trusted counselor to Telemachus, son of King Ulysses. This notion was also depicted in Les aventures de Télémaque (The adventures of Telemachus) by Fénelon, Archbishop of Cambrai. This book is arguably the most controversial piece of literature depicting the roots of where Mentor’s acclaimed reputation is displayed. Whether one attributes the characteristics to be displayed within The Odyssey or Les aventures de Télémaque, businesses have utilized the concept of “Mentoring” as a valuable tool. Mentoring today has grown to complete processes and structures within learning organizations. They form the core values by which organizations try to govern.  They allow various succession planning processes to play into the growth of their employees, which unabatedly affects talent retention, motivation and the future success of organizations along with knowledge retention.

In short; A mentor acts as a counselor and provides advice on career paths, development opportunities, and an overview of what it takes to become a leader in the company. Typically, a mentor is a senior manager, at least two levels above you in the organization; someone with broader experience in the company who can open doors to otherwise out-of-reach opportunities and thus helps you achieve your professional goals. Mentoring fosters the personal and professional learning and development of both protégé and mentor as well as helps enhance organizational learning. Electronic mentoring, also known as tele-mentoring, is a concept that is gaining a great deal of attention in the mentoring community. Simply defined, e-mentoring is the use of technology (often email) to facilitate and/or support a mentor/protégé relationship.

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