A mentoring relationship is usually one in which a wiser and more experienced person assists a less experienced person to grow and learn. Mentoring is not a new management technique since humans live in social groups and learn norms, values and behaviours by the example and coaching of others.
The business world has adopted the tradition of an older and wiser person fostering the growth and development of the younger generation. Mentoring allows individuals to interact as colleagues in a helping and relatively equal relationship to cultivate growth and learning for their mutual benefit.
Experience, skills and a genuine desire to help are valuable assets in a mentoring relationship. Open and assertive communication and the trust of both parties are essential.
Usually, both partners in a mentoring relationship receive benefits. Learning must be a lifelong process and one of the most effective ways to learn is to assist in the development of others. The best teachers learn a lot from their students. Counsellors learn from their clients and partners in successful relationships, allowing both parties to grow and develop along the way.
Mentoring occurs in all organizations whether it is fostered as a development strategy; allowed or encouraged as an informal process; or is an activity that occurs without conscious effort. Individuals learn continuously from others by adopting modelled behaviours and attitudes, and absorbing the culture and perceived values of the organization through their interactions with their co-workers.