The power of professional business mentoring

mentoring at work

By Kerrie Dorman, Association of Business Mentors Founder & Chief Ambassador

Are you a mentor? a mentee? We are the Association of Business Mentors.

We exist to support mentors in whatever walk of mentoring they may be on. There are many. Initially, the ABM was set up to provide reassurance to mentees that their chosen mentor was credible. Thirteen years later our offer includes so much more because it became clear that to be credible effective mentors we need constant support, learning, and use of a live network sharing experiences and outcomes of mentoring relationships. The ABM provides this for our members. The crucial factor is that it’s a skill to mentor with a beneficial outcome. It is not based on experience alone. It is also a skill to be a receptive mentee. Our support provides the guidelines and training to be best prepared for both.

Mentoring drives personal and business growth, development and helps overcome challenges that we all see in everyday business life.

Professor David Clutterbuck, one of our industry experts completed research that shows;

  • Two-thirds work if the mentor and guidance and training.
  • 90% of mentoring relationships work when both mentor and mentee have training and guidance

In the US, 96% of Fortune 100 companies have mentoring programmes. In the SME arena almost 80% of business owners say mentoring has been vital to their growth.

Mentoring is not a one-size-fits-all all. The most successful mentoring outcomes happen when there is a careful matching process that includes several factors such as experience, approach, personality, often location, as well as an understanding of what is needed. Algorithms used in organisational mentoring platforms don’t take into consideration personality. It takes time and thought into these aspects to make a match with the necessary chemistry, which is why they are often overlooked and rushed due to time constraints. However, the feedback we have received from mentors and mentees working with organisations has been highly beneficial as we take the time to work through a matching process together with the L&D or HR departments.

Once matched, mentors and mentees receive ongoing support and structure. This can come in the form of a monthly topic which ranges from awareness of questioning techniques, mentoring topics, and self-awareness. Experience shows that the mentoring processes often follows a pattern which looks a little like this…..

A buzz around session one, excitement about getting to know each other and the possibilities then eagerness for the follow-up session as mentees are keen to report back followed by a waning in session three as the necessary input is realised. The adage ‘you get out of it what you put in’ applies to mentoring. We prepare mentors and mentees for exactly this, with potential session three discussion points as well as momentum builders. Attention to this type of detail makes the difference between a successful programme and one that loses drive, resulting in unsatisfied participants. What is our definition of success? It is when feedback from all participants rates the initiative an eight plus out of ten. Ten being a highly beneficial experience. Assessing participation with results is essential for a well-run mentoring programme.

You’ll often hear about mentoring and coaching. But what are the differences?

There remain grey areas around the definitions of mentoring and coaching and indeed counselling and consulting. They are all quite different although the lines between coaching and mentoring are easily blurred. We like to keep it to a nutshell explanation that a coach focuses on the person with proven, learnt questioning techniques from accredited courses. Mentoring is a process where one person offers help, guidance, and support, using empathy and practical experiences of their own, to facilitate the learning and growth of an individual. A mentor who uses a coaching approach is the most effective. A common pitfall in both SME and workplace mentoring is allowing experience to over-ride which can manifest in instruction, again a grey area. The other two disciplines consulting and counselling can dance around mentoring and mentors need to be very careful when this happens.

Mentoring is undoubtedly the way forward for everyone: personally, for business owners, corporate employees, those in government, charities, and associations. However, there is a clear and present danger when the time is not applied to mentoring preparation, whether towards sculpting a company scheme or mentors exploring the necessary skills and the practicalities of effective mentoring. For example, often dismissed or misunderstood is the art of repetitive reflection plus the ability to handle ego and leave our own at the at the mentoring door.

Launching a programme unsupported, without clarity to all involved, structure and regular assessment is bound for failure. This in turn leads to frustration which breeds a poor perception of mentoring. Such a situation is a lose, lose for all stakeholders.  The Association of Business Mentors is a one-stop shop for all things mentoring to help overcome these challenges. It is rich in proven resources with a clear accessible pathway for all mentors and programme leaders.

To explore a little further or simply have a chat on anything mentoring check out our website

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