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Definition of mentoring

Updated March 23, 2017

Mentoring is a relationship between an experienced person and a less experienced person for the purpose of helping the one with less experience. The protégéeacute;, or mentee, seeks the advice and support of the more experienced person. Mentors answer questions concerning the tasks that their protégés need to succeed in reaching their goals. The mentor provides wisdom, guidance and counselling as mentees advance their lives, careers or education.

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Informal Mentoring

Informal mentoring is when a person forms a spontaneous relationship with another person—often a new employee or student—to come alongside him in a new endeavour. In this casual relationship, the new person seeks guidance and counselling from the more experienced person.

Structured Mentoring

Organizations, companies and schools create structured mentoring programs. They appoint inexperienced newcomers with experienced people to train and support them as they work toward their goals. Many structured mentoring programs include goals of leadership development, diversity and retention of newcomers. The structure may provide one-on-one mentoring or a network of mentors.

Peer Mentoring

Peer mentoring assigns mentees to someone with experience who is in their age group. Peer mentoring usually occurs in educational settings, either consisting of one-on-one relationships or group mentoring. Group mentoring consists of a mixture of experienced and new people working together to support one another. Groups meet face to face and via electronic conferencing at a designated time to discuss issues.

Community-Based Mentoring Programs

Community-based programs provide mentors to children, young people and the needy. Mentoring for programs like Big Brother, Big Sister includes taking these children on social outings and helping them with homework. Mentors in community programs work to positively influence the lives of those in their care. Most of the children in these programs have been neglected or abused.

Online Mentoring Programs

In addition to traditional mentoring programs, various industries have set up online mentoring programs for people who cannot meet face to face with experienced people. These organisations, such as SCORE, which counsels small business owners, work with people around the world who are seeking advice on business and education. These companies use online conferencing tools or telecommunications to connect mentors with mentees on designated days.

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About the Author

Cicely A. Richard

Based in Tucson, Ariz., Cicely A. Richard has been writing since 1996. Her articles have been published in the “Arizona Daily Star” newspaper and “ForeWord Magazine.” Richard earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and journalism from Louisiana State University. .

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