Mentoring: the good, the bad, the ugly

I started on the journey of joining a local initiative to act as a mentor. Being a pedant, the first thing that struck me was the use of mentor and mentoree (sic) as the labels. I am proud to say that I refrained from correcting it on the spot, and now having checked the dictionary (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/mentee) I was tempted to let them know of the error of their ways. I am proud to say I resisted. Mum will be proud: I am growing up.... very slowly.

To be honest (as that is what this blog is all about) if I was the organiser, I would want to be corrected rather than make a fool of myself. On the other hand it may be an “in” joke or peculiarly Australian.

Being in the training/learning business, I suppose the act of mentoring is simply a different kind of training. But for most people, even very experienced business people, would no doubt fall into the trap of becoming de facto consultants.

This whole process will require time I can ill afford, and I would not have done if I did not expect to learn something from it – and learn something that I could use in our business. I can’t say for sure, but my guess is that most mentors would get as much out of the deal as the mentees – if not more. There is lot of ego involved in helping people, more so than simply being a Good Samaritan. Another reason might be simply filling in time: once again a guess, but I reckon a good one, is that the hours between meals are awfully long when you hit retirement and you are healthy, smart and used to having people listen to you.

Make no mistake: this is not knocking mentors (I can’t knock myself) – it is a useful, constructive process and these mentors are generous to a fault. I am simply suggesting that mentees don’t have to feel guilty for taking something out of the relationship, because we get something out of it as well.

Next time… what does the Mentee get?