What is mentoring for?

Traditionally, mentoring has been thought of in terms of “finding a mentor” inside your organisation, or inside your professional track. Of course I can provide the latter for certain roles, but I think this underplays the true potential power of mentoring.

To me, the essence of mentoring is that, unlike coaching, there is a fundamental element of teaching involved and this teaching is essentially 1 to 1 (or occasionally in small groups). It is a place where learning through conversation can occur, where knowledge of many kinds can be passed on, not just tips on navigating organisational quirks.

This is also the key distinction between Coaching and Mentoring. In Coaching you engage me to help you do your best thinking, to create an environment where you find the best solution to your problem. In Mentoring, you engage me to help you develop the skills to take on your challenges.

Of course, given that Enoptron exists to help us make the most of the human ability to think, Mentoring in General Thinking and Problem Solving is a key offer. A future blog will describe this in more detail. A related area is dealing with Information Overload, especially in a new role.

Another area of particular interest and maybe salient at this time is mentoring for Outsiders in the Organisation. If you’re facing the complexities of Context switching, code switching and all those mini moments of adaptation – I have been there and over the years I’ve gotten a good sense of how to manage this.

If you have been recently promoted and you realise your management skills are now as important or more important than your specialist skills to your performance, that too is something I’ve faced before and can help with.

How do I know if I should be looking at Coaching or Mentoring?

More than anything, if you’re not sure, we should have a conversation about your specific situation. As a rough guide however, Coaching is improving your performance and progress towards certain outcomes, about creating a space for you to think through your challenges and how to use your skills to best effect. Mentoring is about bringing my experience and knowledge to bear on improving your skill levels.


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Posted by Indy Neogy