Why does mentoring work?

  • You have someone “in your corner” who is keen to help you achieve your goals.
  • Your partnership is personalised to your specific work and development needs.
  • It has a direct relationship to performance for mentees and mentors.
  • It has minimum disruption to your work.
  • It is flexible in terms of how it is delivered, to fit in with the practitioner’s needs for privacy and domestic circumstances.
  • It is independent of employment relationships that may discourage self-disclosure and honest feedback.

Mentoring is a professional development activity that closely matches peoples’ needs. It is the start of professional networking. The bonds established through mentoring relationships tend to be deeper and longer lasting.

By systematically encouraging the growth of mentoring relationships, Professions can strengthen and grow their professional communities.

How is Mentoring Different from Supervision?

The primary role of supervision is clinical accountability and the development of specific work-based competencies. It is a professional, commercial-based relationship. In a mentoring relationship each person is equal while supervision has an inherent power imbalance. Mentoring is a developmental relationship, expected to change over time. In a mentoring relationship, the boundaries between the personal and professional spheres are less well-defined. Mentoring creates an environment which is supportive, non-judgmental and non-competitive. It fosters trust, facilitates the sharing of information and is based on a foundation of mutual respect. The relationship promotes movement from some degree of dependence to independence and individuation.

Where are these needs coming from?

Our workplaces are changing in ways that makes mentoring a useful and appropriate professional development activity:

  • Organisations have become flatter and leaner, so the productivity of each employee has had to lift. Reduced health funding and an overloaded workforce have intensified the need for maximum skill levels and innovation.
  • Some managers and colleagues are reluctant to provide honest feedback. As discretion in work has increased, more people managers are being appraised on their ability to influence their work colleagues to perform (e.g. 360° feedback). Managers who elect to give honest feedback run the risk of upsetting employees, thereby damaging how their own performance is appraised.
  • Funding for positions can be cut back to the point where practitioners often find themselves in isolated or solo positions.