It seems as though every time I turn around someone is mentioning mentoring as a solution to poor performance and training.  I recently ran across the following blog post by a programmer/developer, which in many ways supports the guidance given in the Manager Tools podcasts about mentoring:

The bottom line is that in order to help someone, they need to take the first steps.  Way too many people start by saying something like "I need a mentor in X."  What they really mean is that they need to go take a course, because they know nothing about X.  They don't need a mentor, they need a trainer/educator/coach.


Singers's picture


Good points on mentoring, I have to say I agree and disagree at the same time.

First of all the solution to performance issues is NOT a mentor, in the organisations I have worked in, the company mainly push to mentor high performers or people with a very high potential, which is the way it should be, when senior people spend time with people 2-3 steps down (not networking, but significant time which can be involved in a mentor relationship), it have to be part of their key priorities. I think there was a cast very recently released going very much into details on this.


On your 2nd point, I get a bit confused, you say they dont need a mentor, but in my experience a mentor can very well provide some of the things you mention "trainer/educator/coach", mentorings is not a secret formula, but more of using knowledge and experience to guide/coach a mentee' in the right direction etc.

For me at least I have seen great examples of mentoring on "new skills" - take networking, for people who's not good at this, I think this is probably where I have seen the biggest impact. 
Likewise I have seen a number of higher level people being mentored on new skills like Six Sigma, sure they could just take a course, but sometimes it's more time effective to do otherwise. if you go back about 10-15 years,  you would see a large number of higher level managers being mentored on this "new thing" call the internet.... again, yes they could start from scratch on learning how to use a PC, learning how to surf etc, but again, shortcuts as in help from people with experience is never a bad choice.

Kind Regards
Mads Sorensen
Disc 4536