What are the benefits of mentoring?

Mentoring has been around since 1970s when American companies paired mentors with mentees, who would provide career opportunities as well as taking responsibility for their careers progression. Mentoring then evolved in the 1980s in Europe where more emphasis was put on the mentor providing the mentee with the empowerment to develop their own career.

The scheme of mentoring has always been around in academic life, with most senior academics able to point out a number of individuals who have both inspired and advised them during their career. For most academics supporting junior staff is part of their job, but a formal scheme can help offer many additional benefits such as:

Formal mentoring schemes provide practical support for mentors/mentees. This may
include training courses and other learning materials to guide mentors/mentees, as well as a dedicated coordinator with whom to discuss questions and problems. This helps mentees derive the maximum benefit from mentoring.

Formal mentoring gives opportunity to all, rather than leaving it to chance whether
individuals find someone able to help them navigate the career ladder. It also has the potential to reduce the isolation some people experience when following an unusual career pathway.

With informal mentoring, most individuals tend to rely on advice from people within their day-to-day experience. Formal schemes can provide introductions to broader
networks and help mentees to think more strategically. Also, informal mentors may have vested interests.

Critical mass
Over time, formal mentoring schemes can contribute to a supportive' mentoring culture' that helps people to understand their needs and to build their own development networks. Over the long term,mentoring scheme alumni serve to build this capacity in the community.

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