Mentoring: A strategy for Organisational Excellence


Prof. Dileep Kumar M.
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History tells us many stories of mentor-portage relationship. The word 'mentor' originated in the Greek legend, where the mentor was the wise and trusted counselor to whom Odysseus entrusted the education of his son.  The great example from ancient Indian history is the relationship between young Chandragupta, a great ruler and Kautilia, an effective mentor. . The term mentor is used to describe a favourite teacher a wise master, an insightful friend, an experience educator, a seasoned guide or a guru. A mentor is someone who helps to develop the individual potential, capability, judgment and wisdom.  It is a more personal involvement than coaching which aims to competence and help with tasks and the acquisition of skills. In the highly competitive and new changing world of today the need for having a mentor has increased many fold who can navigate their disciplines through all kinds of rough weather directing their activities and concentrations towards their goal mentoring contribute too to social development of creating awareness, enhancing knowledge, promoting sociability and sense of community living and making people conscious of their surroundings and development of organizational effectiveness.

Why mentoring?

Mentoring is an effective strategy in building professional, technical and management skills and employee confidence through cooperative and collaborative endeavor. It can reduce the fear and anxiety of the employees and can develop a culture of high performance by ensuring support and their contribution. The objective behind the mentoring program in industry that focuses on establishing a mutually beneficial relationship between management and workers to enhance an organization's ability to align employees' career development with the goals of the organization.

Formal Mentoring Program

Formal mentoring programs have become popular in many organisations and generally consist of junior members of the organisation being paired with senior members of the organisation. Organisation with formal mentoring programs attempt to facilitate the development of mentoring relationship between organisational members (Farrel, 1985, Hennecke, 1983, Phillips johns, 1983) The extent to which a mentor portage relationship occurs is dependent on the level of intimacy that that develops within the relationship. Many of the arranged relationships are more likely to utilize sponsors or guides rather than mentors because of the intimacy and level of involvement never develop to the level characteristics of a mentor relationship. However, some of these arranged relationships do develop into mentor relationships that were not arranged by the other organisation (Hennecke, 1983).

Phases of Mentoring

Kram (1980, 1983) identified the following four phases in a mentor relationship.

* Initiation: in which the mentor and the mentee initiate the relationship with each other
* Cultivation: the mentor and mentee develop a climate for better relationship
* Separation: as soon as the objective fulfilled the relationship to be subjected to gradual separation.
* Redefinition: redefine the goals and objectives and go for further tasks.


A successful Mentoring program requires the involvement and support of top management. It depends upon a clear plan, ongoing evaluations of progress, and clear goals for measuring success.


Develop a 'Mentoring Program Plan' with specific corporate goals based on meetings with Senior Management and Human Resources.

Steps for Mentoring Program

1. Formation of a committee of employees to design the program.
2. Announce the program, and invite mentors and employees to separate meetings.
3. Employee orientation sessions are conducted to describe the program and roles and responsibilities emphasizing benefits and value to each participant.
4. Introduce the program to managers and senior employees.
5. Appoint a mentoring coordinator who can serve as a resource for both the employee and the individual mentor within your organization (perhaps someone from Human Resources).
6. Train mentors and employees separately.
7. Make the employees aware of their 'mentors' in their work.
8. Consider employees preferences in mentor selection.
9. Pair mentors and employees.
10. Mentors and employees hold an initial meeting and negotiate a contract.
11. Selected assessments will be recommended and can be chosen by the organization for use in the mentor/mentee training.
12. Training workshops to be held for potential mentors and mentee's, which include presentation with overhead transparencies, workbook for each participant, small group exercises, and demonstration video.
13. Ongoing consultation to provided during the mentoring process to ensure success and goal attainment.
14. Mentors and employees should be mutually evaluate the relationship periodically as per their agreement.

Training to Managers and supervisors

Adequate training to be provided to the managers and supervisors about the mentor portage relationship before they go for mentorship. The subjects in which the training can be provided are detailed as follows.

* Old Thinking/New Thinking
* Coaching and Empowering Others
* Clarification and focusing
* Results through Relationships
* Role modeling—Demonstrate behavior that the employee observes and then tries out.
* Role playing—Both enact a scenario to gain insight on how to be effective in a situation.
* Empty chair—The employee addresses an empty chair representing the other person in the role-play; the mentor sits next to the employee and coaches.
* Effective Verbal and Non-verbal Behaviors
* Managing Conflict


* Revitalizes employee's morale and interest in work and on management.
* Revitalizes employers confidence and interest in work accomplishment
* Facilitate fulfillment of own developmental needs
* Chance for mentors to evaluate themselves in the leader/coach roles leading to increased self-awareness
* Professional assistance on work projects
* Opportunity to assist organization and enhance mentee's growth
* Reduced recruitment and selection costs as a result of higher employee retention
* Progress towards diversity and equal opportunity in the workplace,
* Improved communication between separate areas of the agency,
Support networks for employees in times of organisational change, and managers with enhanced people management skills.

Organisational culture and mentoring

Organisational culture is the glue that binds the members together. Member's behaviour is the resultant manifestation of the weak and strong culture exists within the organisation. A strong culture, which supports the democratic leadership, encourages mentor portage relationship within the organisation. It develops high trust and confidence between managers and workers and employers and subordinates within the organisation. It removes the fear and anxiety among members and develops a collaborative and experimentation organisational culture. Effective mentoring requires the mutual understanding and involvement of both employees and employers at work.

Bibliography and References

1. Bova, B. M. & Phillips, R. C. (1981) ' A study of mentors and portages in business and academia' (Source ERIC).
2. Burke, R.J., (1984) 'Mentors in Organisations: Group and Organisational Studies', Vol. 9. No. 3. 
3. Ferrel, J.W. (1985) 'A unique approach to management development', Traffic Management, Vol 24: No.1. PP-44-46.
4. Hennecke, M.H., (1983) 'Mentors and Portages: How to build relationship that works. Trainin, Vol: 20, No. 7 PP-36-41.
5. Phillip Johnes L (1982) ' Establishing a formalized mentoring program', Training and Development Journal, Vol: 37 No. 2, PP-40-42.
6. Philip Johnes (1982) 'Mentors and Protégés', How to establish, strengthen and get the most from a mentor protégé relationship. Newyork: Arbor House.
7. Woodlands group (1980) ' Management Development Roles: Coach, Sponsor and Mentor. Personnel Journal, 1980, Vol. 59, No. 11 PP-918-921.

Prof. Dileep Kumar M.
E- mail:

Source: E-mail February 14, 2006


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