In the words of B. H. Owens, mentoring “Is a supportive and nurturing relationship between an expert and a novice”.
According to J. J. Fetzpatrick mentoring is a “Teaching strategy in which competencies of a scientific nature are promoted”.
From the above definitions, we can conclude that mentorship is a form of socialisation for professional roles. The mentor takes on the protege for purpose of teaching, guiding, supporting and developing the individual.
By devoting individual attention to the protege the mentor transfers needed information, feedback and encouragement to the protege, enabling an expansion in the opportunities for success in career. A mentor is thus a creditable counsellor, friend, coach or advisor who provides advice and assistance.
In the organisational context, mentoring is the process whereby a senior manager acts as a friend philosopher and guide to a new recruit, easing the latter through the passage from the B-School to organisational life.
Mentoring is essentially an emotional kind of support provided by an experienced person to younger people through teaching, coaching, counselling, guiding and so on.
While organisational training takes care of the knowledge base and the skills of the young manager, mentoring compliments it with personal instructions in the intricacies of operating in the organisation.
It reduces training times, ensures individual attention to problems and makes the learning flexible rather than structured.
Mentoring can be accomplished on a person to person basis, or the mentor can meet with a small group of four to six proteges, or in both group and one-and-one sessions. Team mentoring is where two people work together for the purpose of achieving a common goal under a common mentor.
The group approach has the potential to evolve into a learning team whose members can coach each other. Mentoring is a valuable tool for developing self-confident and empowered managers who can operate under stress while retaining their quality standards and values.