Mentoring is a powerful personal development and empowerment tool. It is a process whereby more experienced managers actively guide less experienced managers. The mentor provides guidance through direction, advice, criticism, and suggestions. Unlike a management relationship, mentoring relationships tend to be voluntary on both sides, although it is considered possible for a line manager to also be a mentor to the people that they manage.
Benefits of Mentoring
- The employee feels supported and has a mechanism for working through any problems that exist as a result of being in a minority
- The learner has opportunities to interact with experienced managers to improve performance. He gains confidence and self-awareness.
- Women often – but not always – feel more comfortable being mentored by another woman
- Women mentors are uniquely placed to understand the issues faced by other women in engineering, taking into account the specific issues and challenges experienced
- There is rapid feedback of action on performance improvement to the learner.
- Learner is self-motivated to learn with confidence.
- Mentoring includes training, support, encouragement, advice and guidance from people who have both ‘done it before’ and are usually independent of the mentee’s current organization
- It is not limited to performance-related problems. It focuses on future growth.
- Both the mentees and mentors gain confidence and leadership skills
- Mentees report the benefits of a different perspective
- Mentees are more likely to plan and apply for promotions
- Mentors and mentees can gain insights into best business practices in other companies
- The process allows mentors and mentees to make useful networking connections, and have access to role models
- Mentees will find it easier to return to engineering after a career break
- The mentors and mentees belong to a wider network of women engineers (through the Women’s Engineering Society), which can bring a host of other advantages.
Disadvantages of Mentoring
Mismatched Pair: A possible disadvantage is that If the mentor-mentee relationship is forced, such as when a supervisor assigns an experienced employee to tutor a new hire, it is possible that the two may not hit it off, or that the mentor may feel he doesn’t have the time to fulfill the role while still carrying out his normal job duties.
Frustration: Another possible disadvantage is that in some instances, the mentor may feel that the mentee is not progressing quickly enough or doesn’t seem able or willing to follow her direction, leading to frustration. The mentee may also become frustrated if she feels that she is not getting the guidance she needs.
- Heavy reliance is placed on the wisdom and abilities of the mentor. This may limit the scope for development.
- Current management styles and practices are focused.
- The senior managers may be unwilling for mentoring.