The practice of mentoring has evolved ever since formal research began on the practice in the 1980s. While most workplace activities, such as learning, development, working patterns, and project management, have become less formal, mentoring has gone the opposite direction: Initially, it was a relationship established by personal initiative—sometimes mutual—between two people of different experience and status levels. In recent decades, organizations have made mentorship contractual.
A 2010 Journal of Management paper defines mentoring as a delicate balance among “coaching, guidance, feedback, encouragement, and emotional support,” with the last element being the most important. A mentor, to note, is distinctly different from a sponsor: Unlike a sponsor, a mentor does not have a vested—particularly, a financial—interest in the success of the mentee. Mathematica Senior Fellow Catherine McLaughlin explains that “a mentor is seen as a role model, someone the [mentee] wants to emulate,” professionally or otherwise. The idea of being able to see yourself in someone else’s position further down the imagined career path is much easier for some people to imagine than those who do not see people like themselves in top-line management…
SOURCE: Sharlene Gandhi. “How Reverse Mentoring Can Lead to More Equitable Workplaces” Stanford Social Innovation Review, 16 July 2019.
Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia