Business mentoring can be a highly effective way to improve business performance. A mentor is “someone whose hindsight can become your foresight”.
What is business mentoring?
Business mentoring is often confused with management consulting and business coaching, but it is different.
- Management consulting is based on the expertise, knowledge, skill set and technology of the consultant. Their skill set is focused on building their own internal resources, in order to apply them for the client company’s benefit.
- Coaching assumes that the client has the necessary capability and helps them to discover it for themselves.
- Mentoring, on the other hand, targets the personal development of people who are well versed in their fundamental technical skills but need extra assistance in other skills areas, expertise or knowledge.
The role of the business mentor
This is about 1-2-1 mentoring, not group mentoring such as you find with Vistage, the Academy for Chief Executives and similar organisations. Group mentoring can work but tends to be less effective than 1-2-1 mentoring.
Mentors lever their know-how and experience by providing advice, counsel, network contacts, and political and cultural know-how, together with ongoing personal support and encouragement. Their interest is to foster the career development of the person they mentor.
Value to the organisation
At its best, mentoring is a process that activates the skills of the person within their current role and helps to groom them for their next. It helps them to produce high quality decisions that define them, their authority and effectiveness. It provides a confidential sounding board, thinking room and support for working through crucial and often complex decisions.
It can also help organisations to retain their best people and increase loyalty.