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News & Blog > Get Involved with the Alumni Network > Mentoring > What Mentoring Isn't

What Mentoring Isn't

Some guidance on what to expect/not expect from a mentoring relationship

8 Feb 2019
Mentoring
Photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash
Photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash

Mentoring isn’t coaching or training

A mentor is sometimes confused with a coach or trainer, here are some of the differences to help you. There are also some online videos about this which you might find useful.
Money - a coach or trainer is paid, whereas a mentor is a volunteer, a mentor's reward is altruistic.
Outcomes – coaches help with specific problems, mentoring is more relationship focussed
Time – coaching is time bound, either by a deadline or an outcome. A mentoring relationship is bound by time, but it can be re-started at anytime and isn’t constrained by a set time period. A mentoring relationship can last years or it could be one Skype call.
 
MENTOR   COACH
Reward is altruistic   Paid for their time
Guided by time, but not time bound   Time bound, around a deadline or outcome
Relationship focussed   Structured around a specific, short-term problem
Agenda set by mentee, they are responsible for cultivating and driving the relationship   Coach directs the learning of the student. Focussing on immediate goals
 

Mentoring isn’t passive

Mentoring requires conscious effort and commitment from all involved. Mentees and mentors should think about goal setting (think SMART), frequent communication, and a desire to learn and connect with each other.

Mentoring isn’t therapy or counselling

A great mentor will give advice on tough professional (and potentially personal) situations like job struggles and troubles, but it is important to not treat your mentor like a therapist. (If, as a mentor, you are worried about your mentees well-being or mental health please contact the IDS alumni office alumni@ids.ac.uk ).

Consistent positivity should be the basis of mentoring, concentrating on moving forward and making progress, not dwelling on issues and troubles.

Many of us need a therapist type person in our lives but this is not the role of your mentor.It is not productive or inspiring for mentor or mentee to try and include this as part of a mentoring relationship.

Mentoring isn’t a one way street

A mentor isn’t omniscient and you will learn from each other.  We all lean on each other for specific knowledge, expertise, networks and all important soft skills, and both mentor and mentee will want to contribute, connect, and share valuable information.

Mentoring isn’t a cure all/your mentor is not a fairy godperson

Mentors can’t magically grant wishes.  But they can do amazing things for you, they can
  • Increase your careers prospects
  • Increase confidence
  • Help with transitions like relocation or career changes
  • Increase leadership
It is important for all parties to remember that success and progress are a product of all the aspects of your life and are guided by a desire to change and progress.

[Guidance produced with thanks to Mentoring Loop and SACAP]
Further Information:

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