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Mentoring – A Key Tool for Self-Development

Nowadays, the importance of development has reached an unprecedented level. In the times of media and Internet, in which we need to get used to new browsers, inventions and web applications on a daily basis, development has become our answer to a continuously changing environment. This is true not only when dealing with IT, but also in almost all of the other work fields. Globalisation and modern research are just as likely to change and sometimes revolutionise our work life and possibly our free time, too. This is why self-development is very important, today. Mentoring is one really effective means to ensure that this process heads into the desired direction in an appropriate time frame.

The term mentoring denotes a prolonged period, in which a very experienced employee, alumni or professor provides guidance for a person who has less experience. The idea is not only to pass on expertise, but also to provide an open ear for problems and questions. The “apprentice” or “mentee”, as the person being mentored is often called, has effectively the role of the favoured protégé(e).

A key ingredient for a successful mentor-mentee relationship is an honest design. This means that the mentee defines accurately what he or she expects from the mentorship as well as specific personal goals. The mentor has to give feedback and make sure that the mentee knows what will be possible and what not. Mentoring is relationship oriented, which is why this step is so important. Mentor and mentee must have a relationship build on trust and confidentiality. Not even the manager will be informed of the current topics, although he can certainly give some suggestions if he or she wishes to do so. However, these will not be binding and thus can be discarded if mentor and mentee decide to do so.

If you take mentoring into consideration, you will probably encounter the word coaching during your research on the topic. Coaching and mentoring tend to be mistaken for synonyms, but they are not despite their similarities. Whereas mentoring is relationship oriented, coaching is task oriented, thus it is usually implemented by a company to help their employees adapt to a new task or project. This means that the manager plays an important role in coaching and may be updated on the progress made. Coaching is also a short term process, as its exclusively about the acquisition of specific skills for a specific project, it is not about the long-term development of a person.

All in all, mentoring is surely a very effective means to develop one’s self further and to hone skills under the benevolent guidance of a mentor that will share his or her experience and expertise to help you achieve what you want. In this continuously changing world such a constant relationship can be the stable factor to build on.

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