Mentoring, and mentoring, referred to as a staff development tool - especially in companies, but also the transfer of knowledge in personal relationships - the activity of an experienced person ( mentor ). They pass on their technical knowledge or their experience to an even less experienced person ( mentee or protégé ); sometimes she also arranges personal contacts. One of the goals is to support the mentee with personal or professional developments. Areas that are addressed in mentoring relationships range from training, career and leisure to personal development, belief and spirituality .
In general, the word mentor (female: mentor ) denotes the role of a counselor who uses his experience and knowledge to promote the development of mentees. The name goes back to a figure in Greek mythology : a friend of Odysseus named Mentor was the tutor of Odysseus' son Telemach .
Mentoring is used to promote the transfer of knowledge between the experienced and the less experienced. In contrast to the coach , the mentor is usually not specially trained for this activity, but only has an advantage in experience and / or knowledge. Organized mentoring programs within companies, universities and other institutions (formal mentoring) also rarely involve professional mentors (or coaches) from outside the organization. In such programs, mentoring partners are usually assigned to one another by a central coordination office and are supported in setting goals and the overall process. An approach from the USA that is becoming more popular, on the other hand, recommends formal mentoring programs in which tandems come together on their own (self-selection) and only receive marginal support from a central point.
Areas of application of formal mentoring programs:
- Social facilities
- Cities and municipalities
Formal mentoring programs are often used to promote careers for women in industry and academia. In many cities in Germany, for example, there are so-called cross-mentoring networks (in some cases also for male mentees) and university-supported mentoring programs for women scientists, such as the Hessian mentor network.
Informal mentoring relationships take place outside of institutional structures and are usually created through personal relationships and networks. A well-known example of this is Konrad Adenauer as the political foster father and mentor of Helmut Kohl .
Mentors are not only effective through their advice and support, but also act as door openers for their mentees in that a mentor enables his mentee to contact the right contact person.
Even if the mentees in particular benefit from the sponsorship at first glance, the advantages for the mentors should not be underestimated; the concept is based on a mutual give and take.
Mentees are given the opportunity to
- to get to know and assess one's own abilities better
- To receive support during work (e.g. during studies, in the company, in a party)
- to make them more efficient
- Developing ideas for finding a job
- To gain insights into the structures of the professional world and to make appropriate contacts
- To develop the courage to pursue one's own career and to approach it with determination
- Integration in a network that can offer new impulses as well as concrete help (internships, job offers, career advancement, etc.)
For mentors, the chances are
- Get insights into current research
- to receive fresh ideas and impulses from young academics
- to develop and recruit qualified young people for your own company / institution
- to reflect on one's own work
- to train social and communication skills
- Establishing contacts with other mentors as well
- to gain new opportunities for cooperation in the network
With a corresponding conception, mentoring is a method that also creates benefits for the company, for example by supporting organizational development. Intelligent matching (= formation of tandems from mentor and mentee) across hierarchical levels, across departments and even across locations / countries, distributes information particularly quickly. Practical experience shows that an intensive collaboration and communication structure across departmental and organizational boundaries is promoted through mentoring and that several effects appear almost automatically:
- the respective goals and activities of the organizational units are transparent and discussed,
- mutual expectations and reservations are clarified,
- Synergy effects are identified and mostly also used,
- joint projects are defined and implemented,
- Fears of change are reduced.
In situations of change, mentoring can therefore be used to achieve the following goals:
- Early preparation and qualification of key people who will be used as contact persons for the employees,
- Information and support for employee groups in the conversion phase,
- Fast and reliable feedback from the workforce (Edelkraut, 2014).
Forms of mentoring
- Informal or institutional
- Informal mentoring: The contact occurs by chance, the course depends on the possibilities and the respective framework conditions. The mentoring relationship is not always disclosed.
- Institutionalized mentoring based on a program: The contact is established through intermediaries, the mentoring is a systematic accompaniment of the mentees. The formalization adds to the seriousness and official recognition of the relationship.
- Internal or external
- Internal mentoring: Within an organization (e.g. company), members are placed with one another. Usually not hierarchical.
- External mentoring: cross-organizational. Is also used in addition to internal mentoring. Because of the absence of internal company hierarchies, those involved have more leeway.
- Individually or in groups
- Individual mentoring (tandem mentoring): exclusive one-on-one relationship between mentor and mentee. A distinction can be made between the forms of equal-gender (same-sex tandems) and cross- gender (mixed-sex tandems).
- Group mentoring (team mentoring): Supervision of a group of mentees by a mentor.
- Special forms
- Cross-mentoring: a special form of external mentoring: from two different organizations or industries, non-hierarchical mentoring tandems are formed. Mentors are men and women from the other company. Most of the company alliances are managed by an external cross-mentoring consulting agency. This takes care of the company contacts, the workshop program and the tandem formation. The size of the companies involved and their structures are irrelevant. Cross-mentoring is most commonly used as a career program for young female executives. But there are also cross-mentoring programs in which men and women can participate as mentees.
- e-mentoring: mainly online, e.g. B. as mentoring in internet forums .
- Peer mentoring: Mentoring among equals / peers, often in groups.
- WoMentoring: Mentoring by women for women
The Forum Mentoring e. V. has defined quality standards for mentoring programs. The criteria are divided into minimum criteria, which must be present, and additional criteria, which refer to a differentiated program. The catalog of criteria can be used for self-evaluation of mentoring programs and for orientation when designing new programs.
The German Society for Mentoring e. V. (DGM) is committed to the quality assurance of mentoring offers and measures. For this purpose, she has developed quality criteria and a certification procedure based on years of experience and research in the field of mentoring. DGM members and other interested trainers and organizations can have their mentoring programs certified according to DGM quality standards.
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- Frank Edelkraut; Nele Graf: The mentor - role, expectations, reality . Pabst Science Publishers, 2011, ISBN 978-3-89967-723-2 .
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- Katja Michel: Women in management positions: The women question. In: zeit.de. January 2, 2020, accessed January 4, 2020 .
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