A New Mentoring Model for Training the Next Generation

January is National Mentoring Month (, so each Friday this month, we’ll explore different aspects of mentoring and how this form of training can benefit your organization. Today, we hear from mentoring expert, Lois Zachary.

Mentoring has been a tried-and-true method of training for centuries. But the old model of mentoring, in which an older, more experienced worker passes on knowledge to a younger, less experienced worker, is being replaced by a new model, says mentoring expert Lois Zachary.

The new mentoring depends on a reciprocal learning relationship, she says. Zachary, author of The Mentor’s Guide and The Mentee’s Guide to Mentoring, presents seven elements of successful mentoring programs.

1. Reciprocity

In the new mentoring, there is equal engagement of both parties. Both have responsibilities, both have roles to play, and both have something to gain.

2. Learning

This is the essence of the relationship. And it’s not just acquiring knowledge, Zachary says, but also active learning: knowledge about the ins and outs of the organization, field, and profession; an understanding of what works and what doesn’t; and a deepened self-knowledge and self-understanding.

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3. Relationship

The relationship piece takes work, Zachary says. Developing trust is essential, or you’re just going through the motions.

4. Partnership

In the old model, mentoring relationships were driven by the mentor. The new model calls for more involvement by both partners.

5. Collaboration

Both participants bring their own experiences to the discussion. The give-and-take contributes to shared meaning, and something greater emerges because of this process.

6. Mutually Defined Goals

Without well-defined goals, mutually agreed to, the relationship runs the risk of losing focus and working at cross purposes.

7. Development

The focus is on the future and moving the mentee toward where he or she wants to be. Zachary says that mentoring differs from coaching, which is more oriented toward boosting performance and specific skills in the present.

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Is Mentoring Right for You as Mentor?

Zachary says potential mentors should ask themselves the following questions. “Yes” answers indicate readiness to be a mentor.

  • Do you have specific knowledge that you want to pass on to others?
  • Do you find that helping others learn is personally rewarding?
  • Do you enjoy collaborative learning?
  • Do you find that working with others who are different from you is energizing?
  • Are you always looking for new opportunities to further your own growth and development?
  • Are you seeking an opportunity to enhance your visibility, reputation, and contribution to your organization?
  • Do you need to meet a performance requirement at work or in your profession that mentoring would satisfy?
  • Are you committed to leadership succession?
  • Are you interested in mentoring a particular person?
  • Do you want to see that person succeed?
  • Do you want to “pay it forward”?

Is Mentoring Right for You as Mentee?

And then, on the other side of the coin, Zachary suggests that potential mentees ask themselves the following questions:

  • Do I have a sincere interest in learning?
  • Am I willing to commit time to developing and maintaining a mentoring relationship?
  • Am I willing to work on my own growth and development?
  • Am I willing to be open and honest with myself and another person?
  • Am I willing to listen to critical feedback?
  • Can I participate without adversely affecting my other responsibilities?

In next Friday’s Advisor, we’ll look at creating mentoring agreements.

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