Mentoring: A Partnership for Success


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A mentoring relationship produces numerous benefits for both the mentor and protégé. Mentors have reported an enhanced self-esteem and a revitalized interest in work, finding it flattering that someone is seeking their advice. Protégés experience an increased likelihood of success with higher performance and productivity ratings. Other benefits include greater career satisfaction, an expanded professional network, and an opportunity to hear of job openings before they’ve been advertised.

Company wide Benefit

Companies are finding that establishing a mentoring program is an inexpensive way to achieve several organizational goals. Typically, a senior person from another department oversees the development and progress of a junior person. Improved management and staff relationships, reduced turnover, increased productivity, and improved recruitment efforts are just a few of the reported benefits of an internal mentoring program. Research indicates that the number of businesses planning the development of mentoring programs doubled between 1995 and 1996.

Internet Mentoring

Internet mentoring has been growing in popularity over the past few years. NursingNet, an online mentoring program, pairs experienced nurses with students, new grads, or nurses changing specialties. Mentors and protégés correspond via email, never meeting face-to-face.

Maintaining a mentoring relationship requires a commitment on behalf of the mentor and the protégé. As a protégé, your responsibility is to share goals with your mentor and to provide updates on your progress. Be sure to respect your mentor’s time by being punctual and keeping your meetings within the scheduled time. The mentor’s responsibility is to set clear boundaries for both parties.

Identifying Mentors

To identify potential mentors, talk to people within your immediate network. Consider talking to your supervisor, human resource manager, co-workers, family, and friends. Outside of your immediate network, look at past supervisors and co-workers, parents of your children’s friends, and service providers including your doctor, dentist, lawyer, etc. Be prepared to ask questions to determine if there is a good match. Your goal is to find an expert in your field. You want someone who is willing to help you plan your advancement strategy.

Typical developmental tasks of a protégé include: time management, stress management, prioritizing, teamwork, and communication skills. Your mentor is someone who has been there, done that. He or she is experienced in working through some of these tasks and can help you over the hurdles.

Length of Relationship

The length of time a mentoring relationship lasts varies from one partnership to another. Six months to one year is a good time frame, allowing enough time to achieve some goals. Good mentors have limited time to share with one protégé. After a year, they may need to move on to another partnership. It’s also good for the protégé to get a new perspective from another mentor. Eventually you may want to become a mentor, sharing your skills and knowledge.

In 1998, Joan Runnheim, M. S. , formed Pathways Career Success Strategies. Joan applies nearly ten years of career consulting, job search training, and curriculum development to her practice. She draws from additional lifework experience as a freelance writer and from first-hand familiarity with career transition, lay-offs, and the job search. As a career consultant, workshop facilitator, speaker, and writer, Joan helps men and women develop an effective career development plan or job search strategy.

As a career advisor for, Joan has been able to reach out to millions of people with her career-related articles and advice. As a freelance writer, she has written numerous articles, with a focus on career-related issues. Joan has been sought out as an expert in her field, being quoted in local and national print and online publications. She publishes the bi-monthly newsletter, Strategies for Career Success, filled with tips on how to successfully manage your career.


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