The role of an effective workplace mentor is to help the mentee achieve a particular work specific goal or goals; this can be to hit a particular set target, to become competent in performing a particular task essential to their role; or something as general as improving confidence in the work environment.
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It is the responsibility of the workplace mentor to give help and support in a non-threatening manor; provide a positive environment that the mentee feels comfortable in and can feel encouraged to discuss their needs and circumstances openly; and to ensure confidentiality and honesty is upheld in accordance with mentoring guidelines.
The role of a workplace mentor is a significant one and not all people in the workplace will be suited to. An effective workplace mentor will need to have excellent communication skills, both speaking and listening and be able to commit the necessary time to each mentee. In addition they need to remain objective, have a calm and patient demeanour, and bring a positive attitude to each session. It is important that the workplace mentor has the confidence to lead mentoring sessions and give appropriate advice and guidance tailored to the needs of the mentee.
In my role as a Support worker on the Steps to Work program I act as a workplace mentor for my clients who I place in work placements with local employers for 8 or 26 weeks. I work with a wide range of clients from those who need a minimum level of guidance to those who require on-going support throughout placement. I mentor clients initially on how to perform in their placement interview, then how to perform in their particular job role and throughout on the best methods of job searching. Some clients will have lower level needs and may need mentored on getting to work on time and how to effectively communicate in the workplace.
Describe developmental goals that can be met through mentoring
There are a wide range of development goals that can be met through mentoring and these very much depends on the individual mentees and what they require from the sessions and what areas they need mentored on. For example one of my clients, Stephen has a learning difficulty and as a result finds job searching and applying for jobs difficult. The development goals for Stephen are to become competent at reading job advertisements in order to decide if he meets the criteria and to fill out application forms to a higher standard than he can currently.
Another one of my mentees, Leah, has confidence issues and can be shy and awkward in social situations with people she does not know very well. Leah’s development goal would be to gradually increase her confidence meeting new people and becoming more comfortable in her placement dealing with customers and handling queries.
As part of this mentoring course I am also mentoring one of my colleagues Carla and trying to help her with some issues she has identified for development. Carla finds it hard dealing with difficult clients and clients that are a lot older than her; the development goal in this situation would be for Carla to become more confident dealing with these client groups and develop a some action points to implement.
Describe the role of the mentee (person being mentored)
The role of the mentee is integral to the mentoring process as without the need of mentees there would be no need for mentors. I see the role of the mentee as being two sided; one aspect is that they need mentored in by a suitable person in order to progress their development with a certain role or task. The other side of the role is that the mentee needs to be committed to the mentoring process, educate the mentor as to what exactly they need mentored on and help the mentor to understand what learning style is best to utilise.
If the mentoring process is to be a success the mentee needs be open with the mentor during sessions and be willing to put into practice the advice given by the mentor; the mentee needs to be committed to achieving a positive outcome and be honest with the mentor throughout the process.
Key concepts, principles and practices of mentoring
Describe the similarities and differences between coaching and mentoring
Coaching and mentoring are development techniques based on the use of one-to-one discussions to improve an individual’s skills, knowledge or work performance. It is possible to draw differences between coaching and mentoring however in practice the two terms are often used together.
The concept of Coaching is to target high performance and improvement at work and usually focuses on specific skills and goals of the individual(s) being coached, although it can potentially also have a positive effect on an individual’s personal attributes such as social interaction, communication skills, motivation or confidence. The process of coaching generally lasts for a relatively short period.
Although there is a lack of agreement among coaching professionals about precise definitions, the following are some generally agreed by the CIPD characteristics of coaching in organisations:
It is essentially a non-directive form of development, though this is not a hard and fast rule.
It focuses on improving performance and developing individuals’ skills.
Personal issues may be discussed but the emphasis is on performance at work.
Coaching activities have both organisational and individual goals.
It provides people with feedback on both their strengths and their weaknesses.
It is a skilled activity, which should be delivered by people who are trained to do so.
Mentoring involves the use of similar models and skills of questioning, listening, clarifying and reframing associated with coaching. Traditionally, however, mentoring in the workplace has described a relationship in which a more experienced senior colleague uses their greater knowledge and understanding to support the development of a less experienced or junior colleague.
In contrast to coaching arrangements, mentoring relationships tend to be longer term; “mentoring relationships work best when they move beyond the directive approach of a senior colleague ‘telling it how it is’, to one where both learn from each other” (CIPD). A truly effective mentoring relationship or environment between mentor and mentee should provide a learning opportunity for both parties.
Ongoing relationship that can last for a
long period of time
Relationship generally has a set duration
More informal and meetings can take place as and when the mentee needs some advice, guidance and support
Generally more structured in nature and meetings are scheduled on a regular basis
More long term and takes a broader view of the person
Short term (sometimes time-bounded)
and focused on specific development areas/issues
Mentor is usually more experienced and
qualified than the client. Often a senior
person in the organization who can pass on knowledge, experience and open doors to otherwise out-of-reach opportunities
Coaching is generally not performed on
the basis that the coach needs to have
direct experience of their client’s formal occupational role, unless the coaching is specific and skills-focused
Focus is on career and personal development
Focus is generally on development/issues at work
Agenda is set by the client, with the mentor providing support and guidance to prepare them for future roles
The agenda is focused on achieving specific, immediate goals
Mentoring revolves more around
developing the mentee professionally
Coaching revolves more around specific
Explain the key concepts, principles and practices of mentoring
In my opinion the key concept of mentoring is to help the mentee to the best of my ability to enable them to get the best out of themselves.
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The key principles and practices of mentoring is to build an effective working relationship between the mentor and the mentee, to set and review smart goals, and to encourage the mentee to take ownership of the process. It is essential that the mentoring relationship is built on openness and honesty and both parties demonstrate commitment and a positive attitude throughout.
The mentor should be capable of structuring the sessions towards helping the mentee achieve their goals through recognised questioning techniques and utilising mentoring models such as the Grow Model or Radar. One practice that will prove essential to the mentoring process is the establishment of a contract from the offset to which both parties have to adhere to and can be used as point of reference if things go array during a session.
Own ability to use a variety of communication strategies to mentor individuals at work
Assess your own ability to use a variety of interpersonal communication skills and your ability to give effective feedback to mentees on their development
My role as a Support Worker on STW and the experience I have acquired from previous job roles has provided me with the opportunity to develop excellent interpersonal communication skills and enabled me to be confident and comfortable giving feedback to clients on a variety of issues. On a daily basis I communicate with clients, employers, colleagues and local govt. agencies such as the Job centre and SSA. In addition I have to review my clients monthly and deliver effective feedback on their performance in placement and after placement interviews. I feel that these skills are very transferable to the mentoring process and as a result I have felt very comfortable holding my mentoring sessions and delivering effective feedback to my mentees in order to help them achieve their goals.
Identify areas for personal development
I feel that through undertaking this mentoring course I have had the opportunity to evaluate myself and reflect upon my abilities not just as a mentor but also in my job role as a Support Worker on the Steps to Work program.
I feel that the areas I identified as strengths were my confidence in terms of delivering mentoring sessions, my communication skills and my ability to build a rapport with the mentees. In addition I feel that I was able to adapt well within sessions in terms of responding to the needs of the mentee as opposed to having a strict structure and following it through regardless.
One area I have earmarked for development is to ensure I am able to commit sufficient time to conduct mentoring session thoroughly; at times I felt as if I was squeezing the sessions into my working week as opposed to them having equal priority with my other work. One possible solution would be to ensure I plan my time more effectively and leave myself more time to prepare for and reflect after mentoring sessions.
Having undertaken the mentoring qualification and officially conducted mentoring sessions, I see this as an opportunity to develop my own skills not just as a mentor but as a Support Worker. This experience should help me to build better working relationships with clients and colleagues and to be more insightful to the needs of others and how they may view different situations in relation to I view them.
The external threats I faced when trying to deliver quality mentoring sessions were the demands of my job in terms of having the time to schedule and carry out mentoring sessions. In addition I also had to consider the impact on the mentees placement, each client has designated working hours and I needed to schedule sessions around the placement or liaise with the placement provider to get the mentee released for the session.
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