Corporate Mentoring Glossary

I sometimes take for granted all the terms I use when talking about corporate mentoring and related strategies, such as coaching. So I thought I'd dedicate the summer issue of "Mentoring Minute" to defining some common terms you'll likely encounter when you're developing your program. Some of the terms are directly related to mentoring. Others are terms that come up during discussions and debate and can cause confusion. Consider this list your own personal glossary of mentoring terms.

Buddy systems: Organizations often use buddy systems or "peer-to-peer mentoring" to help new employees adjust to jobs during their first few months of employment. Buddies are most often peers in the same department who assist new employees for short periods of time and require no specialized training as a buddy. Another term that's used is "onboarding" or "on boarding."

Coaching: Coaching takes place within the confines of a formal manager-employee relationship and the focus is to develop individuals within their current job. Coaching is "functional"; mentoring is "relational."

Corporate mentoring: Corporate mentoring is a professional relationship in which an experienced person (the mentor) assists another (the mentoree) in developing specific skills and knowledge that will enhance the less-experienced person's professional and personal growth. A synonym is business mentoring.

Executive mentoring: This is the same thing as corporate mentoring, but the mentorees are at the executive level and paired with senior executives.

Formal mentoring: Formal mentoringprograms include:

  • Connection to a strategic business objective of the organization
  • Established goals
  • Measurable outcomes
  • Open access for all who qualify
  • Strategic pairing of mentors and mentorees
  • Mentoring engagements lasting 9-12 months
  • Expert training and support
  • Direct organizational benefits

Group mentoring: Group mentoring requires a mentor to work with four to six mentorees at one time. The group meets once or twice a month to discuss various topics.

Informal mentoring: Informal mentoring includes:

  • Unspecified goals
  • Unknown outcomes
  • Limited access to the program
  • Self-selection of mentors and mentorees
  • Long-term mentoring
  • No expert training or support
  • Indirect organizational benefits

Mentor: A mentoris a person with experience in a variety of areas who is willing to share his or her insights with a mentoree so that the mentoree can grow professionally and personally. The following are among the mentor's functions:

  • Teaches the mentoree about a specific issue
  • Coaches the mentoree on a particular skill
  • Facilitates the mentoree's growth by sharing resources and networks
  • Challenges the mentoree to move beyond his or her comfort zone
  • Creates a safe learning environment for taking risks
  • Focuses on the mentoree's total development

Mentoree: The term means the same as "mentee." The mentoree is a person seeking guidance and direction from a more experienced or knowledgeable mentor. A mentoree drives the mentoring relationship and learns from the mentor. It's important to note, however, that the mentoree is not a clone of the mentor. Instead, the mentoree learns and integrates what works for his or her needs.

Mentoring consultant: A mentoring consultant helps organizations design and implement corporate mentoring programs. Because the consultant is well versed in mentoring, he or she can reduce the time and effort needed to establish a program and improve results by helping the organization focus on specific competency areas.

Mentoring program manager (MPM): The MPM is a person who has been trained to implement and manage a corporate mentoring program. The MPM's tasks can include matching mentors and mentorees, mediating conflict between mentoring pairs, and monitoring the program's results (e.g. are objectives being met?).

One-to-one mentoring: In this traditional mentoring model, one mentor is matched with one mentoree, and a trained program manager monitors the match's progress over the course of 9-12 months.

Online mentoring: In terms of how we use this term at Management Mentors, this refers to our mentoring software, MentoringComplete, which some companies use to help manage their program, match pairs, produce reports, and house all information in one central place -- a place that's accessible to any program members who have access to the Internet.

Reverse mentoring: This form of mentoring matches senior executives (the mentorees) with younger people (the mentors) to help the older generation stay current and informed about new technologies or trends. For example, a 20-something employee may introduce a senior executive to social networking on Facebook or Twitter.

Self-directed mentoring: In this model, the mentoree takes the initiative and asks a person to be his or her mentor.

Speed Mentoring: Time-limited meetings (usually 1 hour) in which the relationship is intended to deliver targeted information or offer networking opportunities. One-time only.

Succession planning: This sort of planning helps transition people within your organization into more responsible positions as others leave the company and/or retire. Mentoring is often used as a way to make the transition go more smoothly.

Are there any terms we missed or terms that you've come across that you'd like us to define? I'd love to hear them.

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