Use Mentoring to Extend Training

Traditional training courses still have value, but they have two big weaknesses: They teach skills rather than experience, and they tend to be “one size fits all” processes. If you want to extend the value of the training course, look to a solution that addresses both these issues: Mentoring.

Mentoring is a one-on-one relationship, where each learner (mentoree) is paired up with a more experienced person (mentor). They meet regularly for the mentor to share their experience and guide the mentoree, who asks questions and uses the mentor as a sounding board for their ideas.

A mentor’s role is broadly to share their experience. This makes it different from coaching, which is about asking questions that elicit the mentoree’s own knowledge. It’s also different from sponsorship, where a more senior person backs somebody else in accelerating their career path. In practice there’s often an overlap: Most mentoring relationships include some coaching, and some might even include sponsorship.

The benefits for mentorees are most obvious: They learn new skills, fast-track their development, identify new areas for growth, access new networks, have a sounding board for ideas, explore issues in a safe environment, and develop their career path.

Mentors get benefits as well: They develop listening and coaching skills, enhance their leadership skills, understand people better, stay in touch with other parts of the organisation, and give back to others.

If you don’t already have an active mentoring program in place for your team, do it now! It doesn’t need corporate approval, it doesn’t need extensive resources, and it can make a huge difference for everybody involved in it.

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