When we were starting our consulting business, Benkorp, about 22 years ago the concept of intentional mentoring as an organised program was not in the general marketplace. Fortunately, we were able to work alongside an experienced consultant who helped us, like mentoring. He understood our context. As our business progressed and the years went by we ‘discovered’ mentoring. It has been an essential aspect of our progress.
The Benkorp business has focused on supporting people, businesses and non-profits with their finances and administration. At the same time I was able to engage with the people who are the owners, staff and board members. Through this engagement I have both mentored and been mentored. I have lived and moved in many and varied environments with these people.
One of the ingredients for successful mentoring relationships, I believe, is the understanding of the context. This is the environment where the mentee will live and work-out the subject of the mentoring. Some examples are like I mentioned in previous articles student, graduate, persons at various stages of the business or non-profit cycle such as intending to start, about to start, in the process of starting, or already operating.
Context calls for three factors
- experience of the mentee: in the field in which they want to be active, at the stage where they are and considering where they are heading. They maybe new or limited or much experience.
- experience of the mentor: do they understand what it is like “to be in your shoes where you are now and where you are wanting to go?” Essential. This is also a pertinent factor when you are considering a prospective mentor.
- resources available to the mentee and mentor: it is reasonable for the mentee to expect that the mentor will refer to other resources for extra support, input and knowledge.
When you are a mentee or looking for a mentor, I strongly suggest that you take these 3 factors into consideration
If you are a mentor or would like to be a mentor, then I know that you must take these factors into consideration as you relate to any mentee.
The results of a mentoring relationship that takes these three factors seriously will have one of the essential ingredients for a strong foundation on which to grow and be fruitful.