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  • Print publication year: 2016
  • Online publication date: June 2018

62 - Mentoring – external

from Section 3 - Activities and tools


Mentoring – external

FINDING A MENTOR from outside your organization or team can provide a beneficial professional learning experience for your staff or colleagues. It is also a good opportunity for more experienced staff to share their learning and experiences with new members of the profession. A mentor is usually:

a more experienced individual willing to share their knowledge with someone less experienced in a relationship of mutual trust. A mixture of parent and peer, the mentor's primary function is to be a transitional figure in an individual's development.

Clutterbuck, 1991, cited in Brewerton, 2002

Generally speaking, the mentoring relationship involves a more senior colleague who will pass on their knowledge to more junior staff members (CIPD, 2009). This relationship should be built on trust, with the mentor using their skills and experience to encourage the mentee in order to help them attain their career goals and unlock their potential.

Role of the mentor

A good mentor will encourage, challenge and provide advice and may be able to help the mentee to make contacts within the profession. The logistics of the relationship will be discussed at the beginning and the pair may draw up a formal agreement to ensure that both parties have shared expectations, including:

  • • length of relationship
  • • method of meetings (face to face, webcam, online, telephone)
  • • regularity of meetings
  • • location
  • • objectives.
  • As a manager or supervisor, it would be difficult for you to mentor staff in your teams as conflicts of interest may arise. An external mentor can support the mentee objectively, and is positioned to avoid competing interests, perceived bias and internal politics. Should you try and mentor one of your team members, this could be interpreted as favouritism by others, or could make it difficult for you to discipline them in your management or supervisory role, as boundaries become blurred. It is worth noting that individuals looking for a mentor may meet a number of potential candidates before a suitable match is identified, as the mentee may be looking for certain characteristics or background experience.

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