Myths about Mentoring in Corporates

I doubt that Employer and Employees world over realize that good mentoring is not only a great passage to great career and personal growth; but also great for company’s growth!

Few years back, I was requested by my overseas HR colleague to mentor one of high potential employees working in our company’s unit in a 3rd country. After receiving my consent, she wanted to match my profile with a potential mentee. I wondered how effective such program can be for an employee, with whom I have had no prior contact and resides in another country. So, I had no option but to refuse to be a mentor.

In another instance, I had nominated one of my senior colleagues to a leadership program, part of which was also mentorship for about a year. His mentor was selected from overseas location and both might have spent less than 25 hours over 4 occasions in more than a year. At the end, my colleague was nothing but frustrated.

Above 2 examples are very common in most companies!

Every corporate desires mentoring program; but lacks depth for its details. It talks tall; but falls short in execution.

Meaning of Mentoring

Several definitions have been floated in corporate world. Essentially, mentoring means inspiring a change and sharing ideas to upgrade one’s soft skills and abilities, to take her/his performance to higher levels and facilitate growth.

Myths about Mentoring

There are lot of myths and misconceptions about mentoring. Therefore, real success rate of current mentoring programs across globe is not more than 5%! Some of myths are:

  1.  Regardless of merit, Bosses and senior management personnel are automatically deemed as “qualified mentors”.
    This is a farce!
  2. Recommended qualities of a good mentor are known.
    These are actually grey and garbled.
  3. Notwithstanding pt. 2 above, the models of match making (mentor n mentee) are considered as working!
  4. It is a collaborative era and hence locations of mentor and mentee are not important – it can be anywhere anytime (time zones).
  5. Emphasis is more on making mentee to learn company processes, its values and achievements, and financial performance data, rather than focusing on how to set targets and achieve/exceed same, how and why to value “the value system of company” and then to enhance this.
  6. You do not need to live by mentoring; rather leave mentee alone to figure out!
  7. Training to train and develop mentors is not important!
    Ironically, almost all corporates put their belief in mentoring; but are clueless on necessity of such training.

Making Mentoring meaningful and impactful

  1. Give mentoring its due, by top leadership driving it.
  2. Introduce Chief Mentor’s post in the organization, who should be assessed and approved for his /her competence by a neutral agency. He/she should report directly to top management.
    Ex CEOs have become Chief Mentors in few well-known companies.
  3. Induct program to train mentors, preferably by engaging a competent person or agency from outside. It would be best, if person or agency is familiar with organization.
    Objective of this program should to train and qualify all top managers as mentors.
    It is very likely that some of the managers would fail to qualify. One, who cannot mentor, can also not be successful leader; yes boss he or she can be. Hence, this program would also serve a great cause to chalk out career path for managers.
  4. Best mentor for employees or mentees is always their manager, provided he/she qualifies as above. Next best option is peer of such manager, if qualified for mentoring.
  5. It should be made mandatory for all managers to manage 20% of their office time to mentor the designated mentees in his/her group.
    Above would push managers to develop their back- ups, where most take back-seat and promote delegation.
  6. Mentoring must monitor and address all qualities and behavioral aspects of mentees, as a professional.
    Most make mistakes in picking and choosing just those, perceived as required for leadership. Most qualities – good or bad, strong or weak, are interconnected in humans. For example, you cannot address mentee’s listening abilities, without paying attention to his ability to focus, extent of his ego and respect for others’ views!
  7. Measurements are must for performance of mentees and mentor. These should be taken as major inputs for yearly appraisals.

It is an established fact that Mentoring brings magnificent benefits to both Mentors and Mentees! It is an instrument to inspire and introduce an Epic Change!!


12 responses to “Myths about Mentoring in Corporates”

  1. yogen Avatar

    i do agree with you Mr. lohia on the myths about mentorship. i heard about recent mentor-mentee meeting which ended up like discussing ongoing project and how can one work on improving certain things in project.

    1. murli Avatar

      Many thanks for your views. I highly appreciate your sharing a real life example on the myths or misplaced perception of people on meaning of mentoring!

  2. Rudra Avatar

    That’s a very receptive topic you pulled-off – “Mentoring”. In my, a relatively small career, I’ve not seen any company emphasizing on this very need and thus, the growth remains stagnant in most companies.

    Due to this lack of knowledge about Mentoring, in many companies a Manager, by-default becomes the Mentor for his team, which is erroneous. At the same time, many companies also believe that good mentoring comes automatically with experience – which again, is a myth. A mentor should have all the qualities that a leader possesses.

    I personally would not want a good Boss or a great Manager… instead, a high-quality Mentor would serve all the purpose (not that I need a Mentor badly, I myself can mentor people very well… :P)

    Your 5th point under “Making Mentoring meaningful and impactful” would be a great idea, only if implemented and accepted correctly. Having said that, in today’s world where most of the people work only for money, I wonder how many would actually find some time from their “busy” Project schedules and think about becoming a good MENTOR first, along with being a good Manager!! 🙂

    1. murli Avatar

      Thanks a lot! Your views are very sensible and significant!!

      Every organization needs mentoring badly; because they can make a difference only through good leaders. And mentoring is a route to create pipeline of good leaders. Globally, there is a shortage of good leaders and companies have to blame themselves, as they do not have an effective mentoring program.

      Paradox is that everyone wants to make more money and grow; but hardly focus on learning methods to get that!

      Your desire to have a high quality mentor, rather that a good Boss or Manager is very deserving.

  3. murli Avatar

    Transferred from Facebook – from Yog Bhagwat

    Dear Sir, I like your article very much..One with hunger for growth and ability to excel must be complimented with Good Mentoring and Un biased support..especially with people with mid level experience, they mostly rely on their supervisors, managers for such kind of support..
    July 19 at 9:27pm · Edited · Like

  4. murli Avatar

    Transferred from Facebook – murli said

    I am pleased to receive yr feedback; thanks! It is great that u know relevance n value of Mentoring!!
    July 19 at 10:19pm · Like

    Yog Bhagwat Dear Sir. Yes i agree..In normal world mentor word suits more than a godfather.. as i belive receiver must be capable enogh to adapt suggestions from mentor.
    July 19 at 10:23pm · Like

    Murli Lohia –>‎Yog Bhagwat Very true! Thanks for yr additional views.
    July 19 at 10:31pm · Like

  5. murli Avatar

    Transferred from LinkedIn
    Uday Chandgadkar has sent you a message.
    Date: 7/22/2012
    Subject: RE: Myths about Mentoring in Corporates
    Dear Mr. Lohia,

    Thank you for sharing such good thoughts on this subject. I have also went through this program but I did not gain anything. As you said correctly there is no one who decides the requirement & capabilities of a good mentor. If he is a senior person in the company he automatically qualifies as mentor which is not correct.

    I hope companies would re-think on this program & take corrective actions.


    Uday Chandgadkar

  6. Sunil Khanna Avatar
    Sunil Khanna

    There is no better person than Mr. Lohia to express views on this topic. Mr. Lohia, you have set example for others by making the Engineering Centre at Pune as role model for others to folow. You have developed leaders at all lvels to take higher challanges by following by putting into action what you have stated above. Thanks a lot for sharing.

    1. murli Avatar

      I indeed feel gratified by your gracious views and comments! It actually reflects your great heart and thoughts!! Many thanks.

  7. murli Avatar

    Dear Uday,

    I highly appreciate your valuable feedback and thanks for sharing your real life experience.

    You have picked up a critical point on selection of a mentor and his/her qualities. Yes, if companies are serious about mentoring program, I do not believe that they can get there without a Change in what they are doing now and focus on this and other points of the Post.


    Murli Lohia

  8. Mandar Thosar Avatar

    Very true. It is imperative for an organization to have sound mentoring system in place if it wishes to grow today. In my view, organizations should have certain formal way for implementation and assessment of the program however there shouldn’t be a strong process wall between mentor and mentee. Having it too formal will not help develop cordial relations among both.

    Reason for 5% global success might be organizations’ failure to frame a formal system which will enhance informal dialogue between its team members.

    1. murli Avatar

      Very well evolved views! Thanks a lot!!

      True; if there is any wall or formal relationship between mentor and mentee, then whole meaning of mentoring is lost.

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