Learning from Mentors


Abstract

In recent times, mentorship has gained significant attention in the academic and business world. In the business domain, mentoring is important in order to improve performance and develop skills of fresh employees in order to improve the efficiency and profitability of the organization. The process of mentoring is applied and implemented by organizations and institutions to achieve different objectives. Learning from mentors assist mentees to gain recognition and acknowledgement for their work and performance from their colleagues. It further provides them with the opportunity to grow further in their careers. Mentors aim at creating innovative ways and therefore, concentrate on both formal and informal learning techniques. They ensure that they come with innovative strategies to guide the mentees and to enhance their learning.  Learning from mentors assist mentees to recognize and learn from their experiences and gain knowledge from them.  Therefore, in recent times, business organizations and academic institutions have started to implement mentoring programs in order to train the mentors to achieve enhanced performance and productivity.  Mentors concentrate on motivating the mentees and influencing their performance in a positive manner.

Introduction

The word mentor is defined as an individual, who acts as a guide, adviser and tutor and concentrates on developing a relationship with an individual, who is inexperienced or less knowledgeable. The duty of the mentor is to promote the personal development of the inexperienced individual or mentee (Allen et.al, 2007). The process of guiding the mentee is known as mentorship.  In recent times, mentorship has gained significant attention in the academic and business world. In the business domain, mentoring is important in order to improve performance and develop skills of fresh employees in order to improve the efficiency and profitability of the organization. Increasing competition in markets and meeting the demands of customers to retain the productivity and performance, calls for mentoring.  In the academic institutions and organizations, mentoring is needed to guide the students and to discover and develop their skills for the promotion of their bright future. Thus, mentoring is an important of contemporary society and therefore, mentees need to learn from their mentors.  This research paper aims at analyzing the subject “learning from mentors” in the lights of broad and diverse academic resources. Furthermore, it will concentrate on discussing the relationship between mentee learning and motivation.

Literature Review

Learning from mentors has a long history and the process of mentoring has been adopted by several professions. In recent times, several organizations have adopted and implemented mentoring programs in order to ensure that mentees learn from their mentors.  In this regard, researchers have conducted several studies to analyze the effectiveness of mentoring. Furthermore, they have also conducted studies to analyze and investigate different mentoring styles, which have adopted by mentors in order to train the mentees.

Core Concepts

Mentoring, Mentor and Mentee: Literature also suggests that the term mentoring is diverse and therefore, each definition differs from another. However, it should be noted that the majority of the definitions place strong emphasis on “on career advancement or professional development by someone in a position of authority within the professional context” (Knowles et.al, 1998, p. 45). Furthermore, the mentoring roles are often found be baffling and conflicting in nature.  In general terms, mentorship is considered to be a course of action or method that concentrates on the sharing and conveying information and providing emotional and psychological support to the less experienced individual in order to develop his or her skills (Allen et.al, 2007). Stead (1997) asserts that “mentoring is often incorporated within professional development programs. The arrangement is formal and seen as an integral part of the development process”(p.219). Stake (2005) asserts that there are cases in which the “mentoring relationship develops naturally” (p.443). Downie & Basford (2003) assert that “The basic model of mentoring is that one person passes their greater knowledge and wisdom to another” (p. 105). According to Eby et.al ( 2007), “The purpose of mentoring is to] help and support people to manage their own learning in order to maximise their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance, and become the person they want to be” (p.254).

A mentor is considered to be an individual, who is experience and knowledge and therefore, he or she assumes the role of a guide, advisor and tutor to guide an individual, having lesser experience and knowledge. The individual with less experience and knowledge is known as the mentee.  The process of mentoring is applied and implemented by organizations and institutions to achieve different objectives. According to Ericsson, mentoring is used by business organizations in order to improve their skills and increase their level of competence (Alpert, Gardner & Laing, 2008).  Academic institutions apply mentoring in order to develop the skills of students.  According to the study conducted by Stake (2005), it was found out that:

“ mentor’s activity can be characterized into four basic styles: emotional stimulation, which emphasizes challenging, confrontation and exposure of emotions; caring, which refers to accepting, understanding and providing warmth and support among the group members; meaning attribution, which refers to conceptualizing ideas, reflecting and providing explanations to the group members; executive function, which emphasizes determining work frameworks, organizing and directing the group members” (p.449).

Learning from Mentors: From research, it is evident that mentees learn from their mentors and therefore, the mentee and mentor relationship has to be developed in order to develop the skills and competence of the mentee. Mentees can learn from their mentor in order to grow professionally, increase their level of competence and develop strong communication skills (Clutterbuck, 2004).  Learning from mentors assist mentees to gain recognition and acknowledgement for their work and performance from their colleagues. It further provides them with the opportunity to grow further in their careers.  Therefore, in recent times, business organizations and academic institutions have started to implement mentoring programs in order to train the mentors to achieve enhanced performance and productivity.

Researchers have concentrates on the significance of personal as well as the career development of mentees (Allen et.al, 2007).  Learning from mentors can assist in personal and career development of mentees in several ways.  Downie & Basford (2003) assert that “integrating career development support with personal development planning, work experience, placement opportunities, and work-based learning enhances employability”(p.154).  From research, it is evident that the patterns in careers are moving away from traditional approaches and thus, employees have started to take strong interest in improving their skills and increasing their level of competence. Hence, using this model, researchers have come to the conclusion that employees need to learn from their mentors and for this purpose, several business organizations are offering developmental programs for their workers.  In the same manner, academic institutions are also offering developmental programs for students in order to develop their skills (Knowles et.al, 1998).

The process of learning from mentors is primarily based on four main steps: teaching, directing, exchanging ideas and knowledge and advising and encouraging.  Mentors employ these four essential steps in order to direct and assist the mentees (Kumar, 2007).  Learning from mentors is dependent on several factors including the behavior of their mentors, the organizational or academic culture and the process of learning and sharing of information.  In order to ensure that mentees learn from their mentors, it is essential to maintain a culture of learning. The characteristics of culture of learning are as follows:

  1. The atmosphere or culture of learning must incorporate the initiatives related to mentoring with present plans related to leadership as well as strategies related to improving and enhancing performance.,
  2. Culture of learning must have small as well as large objectives in order to ensure that the mentees fully learn from their mentors.
  3. Culture of learning must also promote peer mentoring in order to develop strong relationship among the mentees.

Learning from mentors revolves around different needs and requirements. A mentor is seen as a guide, counselor, tutor and an advisor and has the duty to develop mentees as professional and personal levels. However, different professions have employed different mentoring styles. For instance, doctoral students are guided by their university professors in terms of career (Stead, 1997). Public servants guide their younger counterparts on selecting their choice of careers and choices related to work. The process of mentoring concentrates on ensuring that the welfare, safety and security of the inexperienced and less knowledgeable mentees are maintained. For example, senior basketball players act as mentors for the junior players (Clutterbuck, 2004). Thus, the process of the mentoring mainly concentrates on developing the skills of the mentees. It should be noted that styles of adopted by mentors to guide the mentees are different and are dependent on the aims and objectives.

Mentoring and Adult Learning: From research, it is evident that learning from mentors assists in adult learning and motivation. Mentors concentrate on employing strong and robust strategies in order to ensure that mentees learn from the knowledge and experience they share with them. Mentors are known to employ unique, innovative strategies in order to ensure that those under them learn from them. This is done in order to promote adult learning (Allen et.al, 2007). The duty of the mentor is to ensure that he or she incorporates a learning that is exploratory in order to ensure that the knowledge shared with the mentees, makes them competent and skillful enough to deal with the highly volatile external environment (Alpert, Gardner & Laing, 2008).  In this way, mentees are able to survive in the external as well as the internal environment and they develop the ability to adapt themselves to the continuous changes, which influence their surroundings.

Mentors aim at creating innovative ways and therefore, concentrate on both formal and informal learning techniques. They ensure that they come with innovative strategies to guide the mentees and to enhance their learning.  Learning from mentors assist mentees to recognize and learn from their experiences and gain knowledge from them ( Eby et.al, 2007).  They learn the ability to master the knowledge and to utilize them in order to grow professionally and personally. The process of learning concentrates on the development on new mental maps as well as improving the overall behavior of the mentee.  Learning from mentors also teaches mentees to learn from their experience, “which means that mentees have a critical vision for interpreting existing procedures or conditions” (Knowles et.al, 1998, p.198).  Learning from mentors concentrate on encouraging the mentees in order to “to create innovative ways of performing their tasks or by proposing an improvement that is not directly related to their work” (Kumar, 2007, p.189).

It should be noted that the process of learning from mentors calls for the development of knowledge, that is deeply valued, so that it can increase the learning and adaptive capacity of the mentee (Clutterbuck, 2004).  It is a process as well as a culture. Hence, learning from mentees is viewed as the process of learning that concentrates on promoting learning as well as developing a culture that fosters learning.  Thus, learning from mentors can be viewed as the environment in which the mentees develop the ability to learn, deliberate and act.  This indicates that learning from mentor’s acts as method as well as a culture that helps in adult learning (Downie & Basford, 2003). The structure of learning also ensures that mentees learn to interact with one another. The process of learning from mentors acts as a channel and method of ensuring that a strategic change occurs among the mentees.  Mentors have the power to influence mentees and they have the power to “create, acquire, and communicate information and strategic knowledge” (Eby et.al, 2007, p.259).

Learning from mentors can influence the performance of mentees over a given period of time. The process of learning has to be adaptable, accommodating and open. In simple words, mentee learning can improve performance as mentors create a culture of learning. At the same time, when mentors incorporate learning, they also promote innovation and creativity, which helps in improving the mentees performance to a significant level (Stead, 1997).  Mentees are trained by mentors to adapt to the fluctuating internal and external environment and in this process, they learn to improve their overall performance.  In workplace organizations, mentors constantly deal with fluctuating environments and market conditions and for this purpose, they have employed mentorship and mentoring programs in order to ensure that the employees develop the necessary skills to adapt to these changes so that their performance is positively influenced. Mentees learn from their mentors to improve their performance (Downie & Basford, 2003).

Learning from Mentors and Motivation: Learning from mentors concentrate on motivating the mentees and influencing their performance in a positive manner. It assists them to deal with conflicts, work in teams and motivates them to work harder.  The process of learning is considered to be beneficial for the mentees as it helps them to “develop trust, confidence, and familiarity” (Alpert, Gardner & Laing, 2008, p.254).  A research conducted by Allen et.al (2007) concentrated on studying the relationship between learning from mentors and motivation. One thousand participants were surveyed from 20 different professions. From the research, it was concluded that that learning from mentors assist in motivating employees. More than fifty percent of the respondents surveyed answered that mentoring had assisted them in increasing their motivation (Allen et.al, 2007). Increase motivation contributed in improving overall performance and growth and development.  Learning from mentors helps mentees to develop a relationship that promotes the transference of knowledge and promoting the mentees.

Results

The aim of this research paper was to analyze the topic learning from mentors in the lights of broad and diverse academic resources. From literature review, it is evident that the word mentoring is complex and has no general meanings. However, majority of the researchers agrees that the process of mentoring is a methodology, which concentrates on the sharing and conveying information and providing emotional and psychological support to the less experienced individual in order to develop his or her skills. Mentees learn from their mentors and different styles of mentoring are applied by different mentors for different outcomes to meet different needs.  The process of learning offers mentees to develop their skills and increase their level of competence. At the same time, it also assists them to grow personally and professionally and enables them to improve their communication skills. At the same time, it also helps them to improve their work performance. From literature, it is also evident that mentees can learn from their mentors to gain recognition and acknowledgement for their work and performance from their colleagues.

Analysis of Data

From the results, it is evident that learning from mentors provides mentees to grow further in their careers.  It contributes positively towards their personal as well as professional development. The findings in this study also indicates that it is evident that the patterns in careers are moving away from traditional approaches and thus, employees have started to take strong interest in improving their skills and increasing their level of competence. The process of learning revolves around different needs and requirements. Learning from mentors assists in adult learning and motivation. Mentors concentrate on employing strong and robust strategies in order to ensure that mentees learn from the knowledge and experience they share with them. In this way, mentees are able to survive in the external as well as the internal environment and they develop the ability to adapt themselves to the continuous changes, which influence their surroundings.  Learning from mentors assist mentees to recognize and learn from their experiences and gain knowledge from them.  The process of learning also needs to develop knowledge, which can be valued deeply so that it can positively influence the learning capability of the mentee. Learning from mentors can influence the performance of mentees over a given period of time. The process of learning has to be adaptable, accommodating and open. In simple words, mentee learning can improve performance as mentors create a culture of learning. Learning from mentors concentrate on motivating the mentees and influencing their performance in a positive manner

Mentoring, Industrial Organizations

The review of literature strongly emphasizes the importance of learning from mentors. At the same time, it also demonstrates that organizations have started employing different innovative ways and therefore, concentrate on both formal and informal learning techniques. They ensure that they come with innovative strategies to guide the mentees and to enhance their learning.  Learning from mentors assist mentees to recognize and learn from their experiences and gain knowledge from them.  They learn the ability to master the knowledge and to utilize them in order to grow professionally and personally (Allen et.al, 2007). Learning from mentors is dependent on several factors including the behavior of their mentors, the organizational or academic culture and the process of learning and sharing of information.  In order to ensure that mentees learn from their mentors, it is essential to maintain a culture of learning.

Future Implications

The future research should concentrate on the following aspects:

  1. Future research must incorporate the need of mentoring and strongly concentrate on this importance.
  2. The link between performance and mentoring must be investigated at a whole new level.
  3. Future research must concentrate on analyzing e-mentoring, a new form of mentoring, in the lights of broad and diverse academic resources.

Conclusion

  This research paper aimed at analyzing the subject “learning from mentors” in the lights of broad and diverse academic resources. Furthermore, it concentrated on discussing the relationship between mentee learning and motivation.  From the results, it is evident that learning from mentors provides mentees to grow further in their careers.  It contributes positively towards their personal as well as professional development. Learning from mentors concentrate on motivating the mentees and influencing their performance in a positive manner. The review of literature strongly emphasizes the importance of learning from mentors. At the same time, it also demonstrates that organizations have started employing different innovative ways and therefore, concentrate on both formal and informal learning techniques.

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