Why should a mentor

Mentoring: in tandem to success

Which climb can be achieved all by yourself? Success always has several fathers - or rather: mentors. Mentoring programs are popular today and differ from classic coaching. According to definition it is usually a kind of sponsorship between a young, promising manager (the Mentee) and an experienced (ex) manager (dem mentor). For this working relationship to work, however, there must be complete trust between the parties involved. In addition, the mentee must be open to new ideas and tolerate criticism, because the mentor cannot just hand out pats if he wants to advance his protégé. Below you can find out what's good Mentoring indicates which tasks and roles the tandem has to take on and how to find a good mentor ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Mentoring Definition: The duties of a mentor

In Greek mythology it was Mentor originally the educator from Telemachus. Odysseus put this confidante by his son's side before he went to the Trojan War. As fatherly friend this mentor should introduce the young king to courtly customs and assist him with advice and action in government affairs.

That too is based on Homer's idea today Instrument for personnel development: the mentoring. A good mentor takes over right away multiple roles and tasks:

  • Idol

    Wherever he can, he lets his protégé look over the shoulder - in negotiations, in important meetings, in business correspondence or in project management. He comments on his behavior afterwards, explains the experiences behind it and conveys values, working methods and leadership styles.

  • counselor

    In this function, he accompanies and supports his mentee in a very practical way, gives concrete tips on solving problems, and comments and criticizes his performance. However, this is not about nagging, but benevolent and constructive feedback.

  • Coach

    It is not uncommon for the mentor to slip into the role of a coach who advises his protégé on career issues. The mentor (in contrast to a coach) does not necessarily have to be neutral. He can also tell, for example, which problems he has already mastered himself, which dilemmas he solved, but also how he would have solved them better from today's perspective.

  • critic

    This point may seem unusual at first glance, but it protects against a common stumbling block for young climbers: Quite a few want too much at once and too quickly. Even if you have a lot of talent, the mentor will not help you to lose your grounding and to keep you from excessive ambition. This is difficult, however, and is seldom thanked. But it is essential for a career.

  • Sponsor

    Since the mentor is usually an experienced and well-connected manager, he can also provide his protégé with useful contacts and open doors that would otherwise be closed to him. At the same time, it functions as an important reference.

However, the mentor acts - if he does located in the same company is - as a rule, always on behalf of and in the interests of the employer. His recommendations support practically only one internal career - which doesn't have to be a bad thing either.

In addition, mentor and mentee meet practically never at eye level. Their relationship is more like one Master-student ratio. Whether this results in a satisfactory partnership and a successful tandem for both sides therefore depends on a number of conditions.

Mentoring at colleges and universities

There are mentoring programs not only in business, but also at numerous Universities. Here they partly serve the Promotion of young female scientists or the professional orientation of graduates, young professionals and doctoral candidates. You can find an overview of various mentoring programs at universities, for example on the website of the German University Association HERE.

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Mentoring goals: Important preliminary considerations for the mentee

One of the most important requirements for successful mentoring is the so-called Purposefulness. Before employees start looking for a suitable mentor, they must clarify the following points for themselves:

  • What do I want to achieve with mentoring? Do you want to seek advice on important decisions - or should your mentor give regular feedback over a longer period of time?
  • How much time should be spent on mentoring? Especially if you want long-term support, you have to clearly define the time frame. So that a sustainable working atmosphere can develop, you should seek an interview for at least one hour every six weeks at the latest.
  • Who is suitable as a mentor? That depends primarily on whether you are primarily looking for support in technical matters or in dealing with management tasks. In the first case, a proven specialist, in the second, a manager is the right sparring partner.
  • What makes me interesting for the mentor? Since every relationship is shaped by give and take, your mentor must also benefit. That doesn't have to be a lot - sometimes your honest appreciation and reputation gain through your successful support is enough for him. The more attractive your company is to him, the more willing your contact person will be to support you.

Mentees should also always accept that the other person Focus possibly sets differently - after all, the mentor should classify things thanks to his experience. The more open the protégé is to the dialogue and that Feedback acceptedthe better he or she can benefit from the companion's knowledge.

How to find a mentor

The most important thing first: do not appear as a supplicant, but as a self-confident specialist or young professional. Admit your strengths and abilities and be ready to present your points of view and values ​​in discussions. In any case, you should present yourself authentically and never pretend. As in the application, a clear profile is also required for the Find the right mentor expedient.

In addition, your sponsor should ...

  • over extensive Experience and knowledge in the areas that are important to you.
  • for her trustworthy and be sympathetic to you.
  • for you in general reachable and approachable be. A mentor who you cannot reach out to make important decisions will get you nowhere.
  • above good contacts in your branch or your company.
  • quite a few Experience with mentees and would like to work with you.

Mentors can be found in private as well as at work. Be open-minded, talk potential sponsors on it or ask for recommendations. The active search also underlines your will to develop.

Mentoring program: tips for mentors and mentees

Both the mentor and the mentee should consider the following points:

  • frequency

    Right from the start, the mentor and mentee should clarify when, how often and under what conditions they want to meet. So regularly for lunch every first Monday of the month. Experience shows: the more regular the meetings, the more fruitful and trusting the relationship becomes. But you should also clarify in advance how many e-mails you will send to each other. Otherwise, advice or question spam can quickly become annoying. For the same reason, both should also agree on how much time they want to invest in their partnership. If both assume different levels of commitment, frustration threatens. The only thing that is decisive then is to adhere to the agreement. Anything else would amount to a breach of trust.

  • harmony

    In order for both to benefit from the relationship, working methods, personal situations or professional challenges should harmonize. A chaotic creative and a detailed controller will not really understand each other. A mentor who neither knows the industry of his mentee nor has ever had to master similar challenges is equally unconvincing. However, this process of rapprochement always begins with everyone: In order for the team to work, both must first know their own goals, working and learning styles.

  • trust

    Reliability is essential for both sides. In order for it to develop over time, the conditions for it should be discussed from the start. For example, what remains of what has been discussed in private, how visibly the alliance is communicated to the outside world, how actively the mentor is allowed to advertise his protégé.

  • openness

    Mentoring also lives from honesty and mutual respect. That doesn't rule out criticism. For the mentee, this means: ask for advice, but be open to honest criticism of maneuvers. The more you try to protect yourself, the less you learn. The opposite applies to the mentor: Even if you are ahead of your protégé - avoid the pose of the head teacher. They should challenge and encourage, not fumigate themselves!

  • respect

    Everyone loves praise. This applies to mentees, but also to mentors. Therefore, both should always reassure each other of their mutual appreciation and gratitude. This is not a softened psycho scam, but balm for every relationship. You (hopefully) tell your partner over and over again that you love them - even if they have long known.

  • maintenance

    Keep the two of you in touch - even after the mentoring program has officially ended. After all, you never know whether you can help yourself again - maybe even with reversed roles.

Why does mentoring sometimes not work?

Lillian Turner de Tormes Eby from the University of Georgia in Athens asked himself this question and analyzed the data from a total of 173 documented mentor-mentee cases. All of these documents contained information about the expectations of the protégé, the background of both parties and various effects and results of the mentoring. Indeed, there were three remarkable indicators of the duo's success:

  1. sympathy

    It doesn't work without a connection to one another. Above all, the mentee has to like his mentor and see him as a master accept. In this case, opposites do not attract each other. What made the mentoring successful were many similarities in terms of background, working methods, values ​​and attitudes.

  2. Mental support

    Simply conveying know-how is not enough. In order for the relationship to last and, above all, to have a lasting effect, the mentor must also support his protégé mentally, be empathetic and be able to empathize with him.

  3. visibility

    The mentoring team must be visible in the organization. That has nothing to do with nepotism, if only because it no longer runs in secret. It is more about seriousness and consistency. Everyone should see: This mentoring program is worthwhile - personally and professionally.

Of course, the results are in latent contradiction to the demands Mentor-mentee ratio have to be of a more informal nature - that is, purely technical-factual. Lillian Turner de Tormes Eby analyzes, however, tend to suggest that the real recipe for success is a increasingly personal relationships among like-minded people is, moreover, one with a visible purpose.

When to part with your mentor

The relationship between mentor and mentee is often ambivalent. On the one hand, a kind Sponsorship closed, whereby the mentor can enormously and positively influence the career of his protégé. He can do his But also block the mentee, and depending on how the relationship ends also dismantle.

It always becomes problematic when the mentor no longer listens properly and his or her life path Success strategies transfers one to one to his protégé. Then he no longer tries to develop and promote his protégé, but just wants to lead him. In the worst case, he'll even look for one admirer and proof of your own ingenuity.

That is the downside: Just because someone was a successful manager does not necessarily mean that he or she is a sponsor. Quite a few mentors lack empathic competence, themselves to adjust to their mentee individually, on his needs, his career and situation. And as soon as the mentee wants to move out of his shadow, the mentor reacts offended or even mutates into a saboteur.

In that case a breakup is best.

However, the protégé should proceed cautiously to avoid the vanity not to offend his future ex-mentor any further. A possible tenor:

I have learned a lot from you so far, but now I want to develop in a new direction ...


The current projects demand so much time from me that I can hardly find any to invest in our partnership ...

Whatever is possible: actually yourself to reorient professionally and to signal this to your own boss. A new mentor may automatically arise with the new tasks.

But there is one thing you should absolutely refrain from: your previous mentor criticize publicly or express his displeasure towards him unfiltered. You can always do that as Arrogance, resistance to advice and ingratitude be interpreted - and strains the relationship with your new mentor in advance.

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17th December 2018Author: Jochen Mai

Jochen Mai is the founder and editor-in-chief of the career bible. The author of several books lectures at the TH Köln and is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach and consultant.

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