Mentorship entails the exchange of knowledge and experiences between a mentor (a more experienced person) and a mentee (someone less experienced). By using this approach, the mentor supports the mentee in his/her personal and professional journey, developing the mentee’s skills, talents and abilities. Therefore, the main aim of mentorship is to create a space for thinking, self-reflection, personal and professional development. Mentoring process is organised into sessions that follow the mentee’s goals and needs. The mentorship as a method is personal, contextual and situated. Unlike more abstract knowledge sharing methods it is very practice and experience based, and fosters trust and affective relationship between those involved in the process.
In which way is this method alternative?
The mentorship as a method is personal, contextual and situated, and very focused on needs of a mentee. At the same time, unlike more abstract knowledge sharing methods it is very practice and experience based, and fosters trust and affective relationship between those involved in the process.
In which context was the method developed?
The method has been used for a long time, and its root go back to Ancient Greece. It has been taken over in academia for the process of supervising a thesis and research by students, as well as in multiple public and private institutions as a way to transfer knowledge from more experienced employees to newcomers.
Requirements for applying the method
It can take longer or shorter, but from our experience, for the relationship to develop and be fruitful, there needs to be at least 5-6 sessions. This does not mean that one-off mentoring sessions are also not useful, as they can be particularly well suited when a person or a group is in a deadlock in relation to some idea or plan and wants to steer discussion and gain perspectives other than one own. The method is not suited when practiced as a one off or short-term engagement with people who face situations of difficulty and uncertainty. In these cases specifically, it is important that there is time and space to develop trust between a mentor and a mentee, and slowly move forward, relying on longer-term support.
Settings and participants the method is best suited for
Mentorship, with its different variations, is used in numerous contexts. The process can take longer (a year or more) or shorter (such as in flesh mentorship). It can be developed within organizational structure or independently. It can focus on specific profession or target group, or it can feature a mix of disciplines and participants. It can function as a way of empowering socially vulnerable groups, and mentorship programs for women only, or for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds are common across the world. In all of these scenarios the common thing is the focus on mentees needs, dilemmas, struggles and development.
Experiences with the method
We have created and run a program called Creative Mentorship for 10 years already, with 6 generations of 300 participants total going through the program. At the same time, we have shared knowledge and experience on mentorship on numerous occasions and helped creation of numerous other mentoring programs in Serbia, Bosnia, Balkans, Portugal, Sweden and Belarus.