Hopefully, you have had an exciting start to this mentorship. But, what exactly is mentorship? What should the role of a mentor be?
Can you try to define this for yourself?
Although we believe there is not a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ definition of mentorship, it can be valuable to explain what the literature says. Since a mentor’s role syncs in many ways with a coach’s, we will compare some characteristics of both:
|Role||A mentor talks with a person, it is an informal and two-way, mutually beneficial relationship for long-term career movement.|
You will often serve as a role model to your mentee
|Coaches talk to a person. In a more formal structure, coaches identify what is needed and develop a short-term action plan. A coach is trained to guide people in any field.|
|Structure||The mentorship is led by the mentee. The mentor supports an agenda.|
General agreements are co-created, which starts at determining where individuals will meet, identifying goals.
|The coach offers the structure and often works within a narrower perspective; their agenda is more specific, shorter in duration, and oriented toward specific results.|
|Focus||Mentoring is more development-driven and is taking a more holistic approach to career development.|
The emphasis is on active listening, providing information, making suggestions, and establishing connections.
|Coaching is more performance-focused. It improves on-the-job performance.|
The emphasis is on instruction, assessing and monitoring, to improve behavior and performance in present work issues or handling specific aspects of the job.
|Approach||A mentor is passing on their skills and expertise, based on their challenges and experiences. It can frequently be up to the mentee to ask questions.||A coach asks thought-provoking questions, to help the individual find their solution rather than offering their advice.|
Although definitions vary from source to source, this might give insights into the wide playfield you have within mentorship. And, ‘mentor vs. coaching’ isn’t a case of black or white, or right or wrong. You will most likely tend towards one role and touch into the other, which is completely fine.
Your most important asset of being a mentor is guiding your mentee based on your learnings in a way that you think is best. And don’t forget that this is a learning process for you too!