While many managers demonstrate mentoring behavior on an informal basis, it is very different from having a structured mentoring program. There is a qualitative difference between a manager-employee relationship and a mentor-mentoree relationship.
- Managerial Role
The manager-employee relationship focuses on achieving the objectives of the department and the company. The manager assigns tasks, evaluates the outcome, conducts performance reviews, and recommends possible salary increases and promotions.
Because managers hold significant power over employees’ work lives, most employees demonstrate only their strengths and hide their weaknesses in the work environment.
- Mentoring Role
A mentor-mentoree relationship focuses on developing the mentoree professionally and personally. As such, the mentor does not evaluate the mentoree with respect to his or her current job, does not conduct performance reviews of the mentoree, and does not provide input about salary increases and promotions.
This creates a safe learning environment, where the mentoree feels free to discuss issues openly and honestly, without worrying about negative consequences on the job.
The roles of manager and mentor are fundamentally different. That’s why structured mentoring programs never pair mentors with their direct reports.
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