Mentoring: a way to grow together

Mentoring: a way to grow together

It could have happened to all of us that we have been in the situation where we needed to ask for help and support from a friend who has more experience than us when put in front of an important choice to take, or a difficult challenge to face. An open person able to support us in a wise and honest manner. Or instead, we have been those supporting a friend with less experience than us to overcome challenges that we have already faced and sorted out ourselves.  In both cases, we will have been enriched with an experience of common growth by exchanging and sharing knowledge with another.

These situations described are typical Mentoring relations.
A Mentoring relationship is a one-to-one interaction established between a Mentor, an experienced person and a Mentee, a less experienced person. The aim of this relationship is to enhance the capacities of the Mentee. Yet there are differences peculiar to this relationship that distinguish it from other relationships such as that between teacher and student.

David Clutterbuck, co-founder of the European Mentoring and Coaching Council tells us:
"It seems to me that Mentoring is perceived as the simple action of asking somebody for support and expecting them to tell us what to do. Well, it is rather the opposite. If we go back to the origins of Mentoring we'll see that it is all about somebody helping you to sort things out on your own. A more solid experience base is what typically distinguishes the Mentors.
Nevertheless, Mentors will source from their experience to enhance the Mentee's experience in a way that is more like: "Let's look at this situation" or "Ok, let's try this" or "What do you think about that?" rather than: "I would do it this way" or "Let me tell you about my experience". Their task is to give their Mentees the responsibility of determining what is their priority. And what fascinates me is that what I, as a mentor, may consider important rarely matches with what the Mentees consider to be important.";

This new meaning gives an added value to the relationship found in Mentoring. On one side, the Mentor can benefit from the satisfaction of passing their experiences on and to see how other people have grown thanks to this. On the other hand, the Mentee will benefit from a deeper knowledge that will allow them to stand on their own.

The aim of the mentoring process is the autonomy of the Mentee and the nature of the relationship between the two parts, this is actually a peer to peer exchange. The greater experience of the Mentor will be a tool for the Mentee to use to improve their own capacity and autonomy instead of a reason for simply being told what to do.

A common mistake made by the Mentee is to consider the Mentor as a substitute for solving problems or to say what to do in their place. Instead, the Mentor wants to help the Mentee to rely on themself.
Actually, the first thing that they will probably say when you present them with a problem is:

"So, will you tell me what have you been thinking about it so far?". (Clutterbuck).

Would you like to know more?

Davide Fabbro

Since 2003 Microlab has supported young and small entrepreneurs through the Business Mentoring programme, thanks to a national network of Business Mentor Volunteers, business professionals who offer voluntarily and free of charge their time and experience to support disadvantaged people to create and settle their own enterprise.

Over the years, we have optimised our mentoring process thanks to our experience and strength of the support of the international network: Youth Business International, who gather NGOs from all over the world working in the field of mentoring.

If you want to know more about business mentoring and to meet us, you are welcome to take part in one of our free informative meetings. Send us your contact details and we will inform you about upcoming dates and cities.

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