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Mentoring has been around for centuries. According to legend, when Odysseus left Ithaca to fight in the Trojan War, he left his son Telemachus in the capable hands of a teacher named Mentor. In the millennia since, the concept of the Mentor has become deeply ingrained in Western society. We generally perceive the Mentor as an older individual who takes someone younger under their wing, passing down knowledge in a nurturing relationship that benefits them both. Actually, the age difference doesn’t matter; what does is the experience being transmitted, along with the relevant patterns of thought.

In business, a higher level employee who can be depended upon to share personal insights and provide guidance to enhance the performance and career development of another employee can be seen as a Mentor. A Mentor has a significant, beneficial impact on the life, the career progression, and even the style of another person as a result of this one-on-one contact.

In the business environment, mentoring is often a hit-or-miss proposition. Opinions on the topic tend to fall into two categories: either that it’s one of those things that would be nice to do if only everyone had the time, or that it’s a complete waste of time. But effective mentoring is never a waste. In fact, it can boost the productivity of both the Mentee and the Mentor significantly; and by so doing, it contributes to the success of the entire organization.

This is especially the case when the Mentor is the Mentee’s boss; indeed, the mentoring relationship allows the supervisor to maximize the coaching process by which any subordinate is groomed to become a better employee. It strengthens both communication and relationships between the echelons, helping the Mentees become more competent and responsible in their jobs. This, in turn, allows the manager/Mentor to focus on the high-level tasks that earn the company the most money (assuming they’re smart enough to avoid the bugbear of micromanaging).

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