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13 May, 2019 11:13:36 AM


Mentoring : A time tested way for self development

Mentoring can be one of the ways to facilitate learning and embracing new ideas. It can provide a key to career success and enhanced performance
Mentoring : A time tested way for self development

Mentoring is most often defined as a professional relationship in which an experienced person (the mentor) assists another (the mentee) in developing specific skills and knowledge that will enhance the less-experienced person’s professional and personal growth. The origins of both the concept of mentorship, or the professional training of a pupil by a more experienced peer, as well as the name 'mentor' comes from Homer's classic poem, The Odyssey.

Homer's poem was written about 800 BCE and describes a time around 1200 BCE when the character Odysseus, king of Ithaca, was preparing to leave for Troy.
During his preparations, he wanted to ensure there was someone who could look after his son, Telemachus, in his absence. He appointed someone to act in his place as a teacher, advisor, and friend. This guardian's name was Mentor. The roots of the practice are lost in antiquity. The word itself was inspired by the character of Mentor in Homer's Odyssey. Though the actual Mentor in the story is a somewhat ineffective old man, the goddess Athena takes on his appearance in order to guide young Telemachus in his time of difficulty. Historically significant systems of mentorship include the guru–disciple tradition practiced in Hinduism and Buddhism, Elders, the discipleship system practiced by Rabbinical Judaism and the Christian church, and apprenticing under the medieval guild system. In  the United States, advocates for workplace equity in the second half of the twentieth century popularised the term "mentor" and concept of career mentorship as part of a larger social capital lexicon which also includes terms such as glass ceiling, bamboo ceiling, networking, role model, and gatekeeper—serving to identify and address the problems barring non-dominant groups from professional success. Mainstream business literature subsequently adopted the terms and concepts, promoting them as pathways to success for all career climbers. In 1970, these terms were not in the general American vocabulary; by the mid-1990s they had become part of everyday speech.

There are some people who became famous because they were mentored by other famous people. In many other cases, people who became celebrities were mentored by someone who was not well known but was a critical part of their upbringing and life choices. For example, many of us know about the accomplishments of Thomas Jefferson but the name George Mason is much less famous. George Mason was a mentor to Jefferson and was a predecessor and assistant in Jefferson's greatest accomplishments. Mason made important contributions to the Declaration of Independence, as well as helped to create an environment for the document to become a reality.

Oprah Winfrey speaks very highly of her mentor, Maya Angelou. Winfrey gives credit to Angelou for giving her advice and being there for her during the most important times of her life. Some believe that if it were not for Angelou's mentorship, the Oprah Winfrey Show and her network might not exist today. In other instances, people are given credit as being a mentor just by their actions without ever meeting their mentee. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. acknowledges Mahatma Gandhi as one of his most important mentors, but the two never met. Gandhi set a series of commitments to struggle for peace using non-violent methods in India. King shared many of Gandhi's values and vowed to continue with his strategies.

Successful people usually attribute a part of their success to their mentors. A good mentor can actually guide and advice a mentee in reaching great professional heights. Here are five ways you can become a great mentor. 1. Have interest: Being a great mentor works only when you have genuine interest on your mentee. Choose your mentees well so that you happily invest time in the relationship. Understand the mentee’s background and narrative and help him figure out his current situation as well as dreams and aspirations. 2. Perceive: Be sensitive to the mentee’s environment and situation and use your understanding and personal experience to hear and understand the things that the mentee did not share. Be perceptive in anticipating challenges and share from your life to encourage communication.

Maintain confidentiality to increase trust. 3. Listening and learning: Have a regular conversation with your mentee. At least once a month works well. Find a common time and informal environment for meeting. Give your mentee undivided attention and ask open ended questions to help the mentee speak freely and openly. For best outcomes, constantly learn from your interactions. 4. Commitment: Have an open door policy for your mentees to approach you and seek help whenever required. If they are serious and committed to their personal growth, use your network to make the appropriate connections for them. Be committed to fulfilling your promises to your mentees and hold them accountable too. 5. Provide feedback: Ask questions before you advise. Be non-judgmental and drop biases before you give feedback. Be proactive and assertive in discussing areas of improvement. Figure out how your feedback chats can be structured for maximum effectiveness. Finally, encourage your mentees to take their own decisions.

The responsibilities of all mentors include: 1. Assist the employee in developing talents.

Maintain objectivity and balance; 2. Allow the employee to grow and become more independent.

Foster a sense of risk-taking and independence; 3.Balance the responsibilities you take on for the employee; 4. The additional responsibilities of mentors in a formal programme,  5. Listen to and acknowledge the employee without undermining the role of the manager, 6. Encourage the employee to resolve problems directly with the manager. While the responsibility of a mentee include: 1. Attend regular meetings with the mentee, preferably in an informal environment prepare for meetings, 2. Set the agenda for discussions in collaboration with the mentee.  Allow out of turn meeting with the mentee if the mentee needs one, 3. Work out plan of action for the mentee in consultation with him, 4. Maintain dialogue and discussions act as a sounding board, 5. Observe the mentee and train mentee to observe others, 6. Provide feedback to mentee, 7. Acclimatise the mentee with the values, culture, policies and systems of the organisation, 8. Maintain confidentiality befitting mentor-mentee relationship

Take relevant training to become a better mentor, 8. Share information with the mentee about continuing professional development and opportunities 9. Provide emotional support as needed and

10. Guard against the exploitation of the mentee by other parties.

Today’s fast-paced workplace requires employees who can learn, unlearn and relearn things at faster pace. Mentoring can be one of the ways to facilitate learning and embracing new ideas. It can provide a key to career success and enhanced performance. Pick your mentor today.

The writer, a banker by profession, has worked both in local and overseas market with various foreign and local banks in different positions


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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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