The background to mentoring The contents covered are: What is mentoring? How does mentoring ﬁt into enterprise support? What is mentoring not? What is enterprise mentoring? What is the role of the enterprise mentor? What are the diﬀerent types of mentoring rela9onship? Mentors ‘pull’ -‐ they don’t push Mentoring in summary
The background to mentoring The aim of this sec6on is to provide an insight into mentoring. It is intended to answer such ques6ons as: • What is mentoring? • How does mentoring ﬁt into enterprise support? • What is mentoring not? What is enterprise mentoring? • • What is the role of the enterprise mentor? • What are the diﬀerent types of mentoring rela9onship? • Mentors pull -‐ they don’t push What is mentoring? word ‘mentor’ comes from the Greek myth in which the legendary king Odysseus went oﬀ The to ﬁght in the Trojan Wars, entrus9ng the care of his son to a friend called Mentor. The word actually means ‘enduring’ and is usually used to describe a sustained rela9onship between an experienced person and someone who is in the ini9al stages of their development. The word has become synonymous with the idea of a trusted adviser -‐ a friend, teacher, or wise person. The Oxford English Dic9onary deﬁnes a mentor as an ‘experienced and trusted adviser’.
How does mentoring ﬁt into enterprise support? What is enterprise support? The term ‘enterprise support’ covers a wide range of ac9vi9es that provide support for a business, whether it is already up and running or just star9ng out. Enterprise support gives the business owner the help they need to start, live and grow -‐ in other words, to survive and thrive. Outsiders can bring an objec9ve eye to decision-‐making and some9mes see things the business owner has missed. Decisions are always in the hands of the business owner, of course. A mentor can be invaluable in guiding the business owner to iden9fy the support they need, consider their op9ons and get new informa9on. The mentor’s role is to be a trusted conﬁdant, helping the mentee to make wise choices. Sources of enterprise support Support comes in many guises and from many diﬀerent sources, from a quick chat with a friend who has experience of running a business, to the formal support provided by a professional adviser. Sources include: • online informa9on portals such as businesslink.org.uk • local enterprise agencies • web-‐based forums and networking groups • local authori9es • small business membership organisa9ons trade associa9ons • • accountancy prac9ces • professional ins9tutes banks • • colleges and universi9es business consultancies • • mentoring organisa9ons. Types of enterprise support Mentoring is just one type of enterprise support, each of which is used in diﬀerent circumstances and for diﬀerent reasons; a business may use a number of diﬀerent types of support at the same 9me. The mentor needs to be aware of the other types of support available so that they can point the mentee in the right direc9on if necessary. The main types of enterprise support are shown in this diagram. What they all have in common is that the client -‐ or mentee -‐ is at the centre.
What is mentoring not? is important to keep a clear focus, otherwise a lot of 9me can be wasted on ac9vi9es that aren’t It strictly part of the mentoring brief. It’s not just a maRer of 9me -‐ it’s the mentor’s responsibility to perform a very speciﬁc role for the mentee and to be aware of what is and is not part of that role. The style of the process -‐ for example, how formal or informal it is -‐ is very much up to the mentor and mentee. However, there are some things that are deﬁnitely not part of the mentor’s role. • Ac6ng as a parent. The mentee holds the reins, not the mentor. The mentor might sense that the mentee would like them to take control and ‘babysit’ them, in which case they should make it clear that the responsibility lies with the mentee. • Ac6ng as a counsellor. The mentor is not the person to ‘ﬁx’ things when the mentee needs help with a prac9cal, personal or health problem. In such cases, the mentor should make sure they’re armed with some basic details of people/organisa9ons who can help. Then they can pass these to the mentee and return to the business of mentoring. • An excuse for the mentee to moan. The mentor’s job is not to listen to the mentee’s problems, so if they arrive with a list of woes and expect to spend the session on these, the mentor should gently put them right and steer them in a more posi9ve direc9on. • Being the mentee’s friend. That doesn’t mean the mentor should be completely detached -‐ of course, they can be friendly! But this role means the mentor can be completely honest -‐ perhaps some9mes even blunt -‐ in a way that would be diﬃcult for a friend. It’s important that the mentor doesn’t let the boundaries become blurred. • Dispensing discipline. Just as the mentor is not there to look aXer the mentee, they are not there to tell them oﬀ if they make a mistake or aren’t working hard enough. If the mentor no9ces the mentee isn’t pulling their weight, they should simply tell them so. The mentee’s success or failure is not the mentor’s responsibility -‐ it’s their own. • Being a god. No maRer how much experience and knowledge the mentor has, they are not expected to have all the answers. Their role is not to tell the mentee what to do, but to guide, support and encourage them to progress along their own path.
What is enterprise mentoring? eﬀec9ve enterprise mentoring rela9onship gives the mentee an opportunity to receive short-‐, An medium-‐ or long-‐term personal and professional support. The rela9onship enables the mentee to explore his or her personal and professional situa9on in order to develop goals that will have a posi9ve impact on their business enterprise. The mentor should have the personal experience and skills to give the enterprise owner the right level of support, but it is equally important for the mentoring to be done in the most appropriate way. Mentoring is based on establishing a rela9onship based on equality, openness and trust. Above all, it should be very suppor9ve. In a good enterprise mentoring rela9onship, the mentor encourages the enterprise owner to reﬂect on his or her own personal and professional experiences, and shares his or her own personal and professional experiences as well. In this way, the mentor supports the enterprise owner to devise new or more eﬀec9ve ways to approach business problems and challenges. What is the role of the enterprise mentor? enterprise mentor’s role is mul6-‐faceted and requires good levels of skill and self-‐awareness. The • Enterprise mentors work with a wide variety of people in all sorts of markets, who have a wide variety of strengths and development needs. The mentor therefore needs to be able to adapt his or her style and behaviour to suit each mentee and each business situa9on. The mentor’s role is to guide the mentee to look at a wide variety of op6ons and consider alterna6ve courses of ac6on in order to solve problems for themselves, rather than to give them answers or provide solu6ons. • For most mentoring rela9onships, the main objec9ve is for the mentee to gain new personal skills, experiences and knowledge that will lead to new insights, a greater vision and new atudes and behaviour. These, in turn, lead to beRer personal and business performance. The role of the mentor is to release and develop the mentee’s own resourcefulness. • It is not the place of a mentor to tell the mentee what they should do. Only the mentee can decide what goals or ac9ons they will implement -‐ aXer all, the mentee is the one who will live with the results. This does not mean the mentor should not oﬀer useful informa9on, but that it is up to the mentee to decide whether to use it. So mentoring does not mean giving advice. Giving advice implies the mentor ‘knows best’, and it also leads to dependency -‐ the opposite of what the mentor is trying to achieve.
What are the diﬀerent types of mentoring rela6onship? Face-‐to-‐face, one-‐to-‐one mentoring The vast majority of mentoring is done face to face and usually on a one-‐to-‐one basis. This allows the mentor to focus 100% on the opportuni9es of the individual mentee. The advantage of face-‐to-‐ face individual mentoring is that the mentor can gather an enormous amount of informa9on from both verbal and non-‐verbal communica9on. Face-‐to-‐face group mentoring (peer mentoring) type of mentoring is becoming more popular in business mentoring. In this format, a small This group of between six and eight business owners come together to discuss their opportuni9es. The group acts as a sounding board, taking on the role of peer mentor, to help its individual members examine their issues from diﬀerent perspec9ves. The advantage of this type of mentoring is that the group of peers can provide a number of diﬀerent experiences and viewpoints to help and support its members. In such situa9ons, the actual mentor acts as a facilitator to the group. Telephone mentoring Telephone mentoring is usually part of a blended mentoring approach, used in tandem with face-‐to-‐face mentoring. It is provided on a one-‐to-‐one basis, so has the advantage of being focused on the mentee’s speciﬁc issues. This method is also extremely ﬂexible. e-‐mentoring Like telephone mentoring, e-‐mentoring is oXen part of a blended mentoring approach but it can also be used on its own. It is provided on a one-‐to-‐one basis and has the advantage of being able to focus on speciﬁc issues. The mentee can also provide a lot more wriRen informa9on than with other types of mentoring, which may allow the mentor more 9me to consider the informa9on before deciding on poten9al op9ons for a course of ac9on.
Mentors ‘pull’ -‐ they don’t push The following diagram shows the ‘pulling’ nature of the mentoring role.
Mentoring in summary Mentoring is: • a one-‐to-‐one rela9onship over a period of 9me between a less experienced person (mentee) and an established business person (mentor), which provides consistent support, guidance and prac9cal help • a process by which an experienced business person shares their personal skills, knowledge and experience with another person a means of enabling a less experienced person to gain the necessary skills, knowledge • and conﬁdence to be able to perform at a higher level an opportunity for a less experienced person to gain access to impar9al, non-‐judgemental • guidance and support a process of working together to achieve predetermined goals and objec9ves • • a two-‐way process through which both par9es derive sa9sfac9on from the progress, and success is aRained through working together. The mentoring rela6onship is voluntary for both par6es and, although it is usually designed for a set period of sessions, it may be ended at any 6me by either the mentee or the mentor.