MENTORING: DEFINING A COMPLEX, CHALLENGING ROLE
While mentors draw upon similar skills used by advisors, coaches, and confidants, they also employ special skills that distinguish the mentor role from other helping and teaching roles. The unique characteristics of mentoring relationships include:
*Offline assistance. Mentoring happens outside the scope of formal work responsibilities. Outcomes of the process should not be a direct part of an employee’s performance evaluation.
*Transitional assistance. Mentors often help protégés manage major transitions, such as career changes.
*Emotional connection. In a mentoring relationship, trust and a deep sense of emotional connection are developed.
*Long-term stability. The mentoring process is a bond that lasts even when there are big changes, such as a geographic relocation of one of the participants.
*Wide competence difference. For mentoring associations to be useful to mentees over their careers, mentors need to hold more senior positions and offer advice throughout the various levels of the mentees’ advancement.
*Multifaceted role. At different phases in a protégé’s development, the mentor may need to take on different roles, such as being a sponsor on a big project or being a teacher explaining effective techniques.
*Modeling performance. Telling a protégé how to do something is good, but demonstrating it is even better. For example, a mentor could invite his or her mentee to a meeting to observe the mentor’s speech-making skills