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Mentoring Rationale, Examples, and Our Expertise

The Origin of Mentoring
Mentoring is a powerful and popular way for people to learn a variety of personal and professional skills. In fact, mentoring is one of the oldest forms of influence. Popular mentoring literature attributes the origin of the term mentoring to Homer, one of the ancient Greek story tellers. In his classic tale Homer tells of the King of Ithaca, who asked his friend Mentor to look after his son Telemachus while he fought to win the Trojan War. However, scholars familiar with the original work believe that the model of mentoring portrayed by Homer would make most relationships fizzle rather than sizzle. In fact the true origin of the modern use of the term mentoring more likely comes from the work of 18th century French writer Fenelon who was also an educator. African scholars have noted that mentors were commonplace in Africa, long before the ancient Greek civilization.

Regardless of the origins of the term and although not everyone takes the place of a king, most adults can identify a person who, at some time in their life, had a significant and positive impact on them. Mentors can be friends, relatives, co-workers, teachers, as well as historic or contemporary personalities. Most often, a mentor is a more experienced or older person who acts as a role model, compatriat, challenger, guide or cheerleader.

Mentoring has become an effective method for businesses to help employees with orientation, career advancement, problem solving, coaching, and support. In addition, mentors can assist employees to deal with the challenges associated with successful, productive, meaningful worklife. Peer Resources is Canada's leading organization for mentor research, training, consultation, and program development.

Some General Examples of Mentoring

  • Women executives assist other women to break the "glass ceiling"
  • Senior citizens demonstrate hobbies to elementary students
  • Business managers take new employees "under their wings"
  • Volunteers partner with students at risk of dropping out of school
  • People managing life challenges provide support and wisdom to others
  • Older students help younger students cope with peer pressure
  • University alumni provide guidance to students seeking business careers
  • Experienced faculty members assist their newer colleagues
  • Successful business people help new entrepreneurs starting out

Our Involvement in Mentoring
Mentoring has been an interest for us since 1975, and on behalf of Human Resources Development Canada, Peer Resources designed and implemented the National Mentor Strategy to prevent school dropouts, one of the most successful education campaigns ever launched by the Canadian government.

The core elements of the Stay-in-School campaign were:

Our Current Mentoring Work
In 1999 we designed a Canada-wide survey which asked the 2000 most productive corporations in the country about their involvement with mentoring. The results of this survey yielded valuable insights into the extent of mentoring, and the pitfalls, barriers, and successes of mentoring. In addition the survey provided an extensive database of best practices as well as details regarding the mentoring activities and wishes of corporations across the Nation. A summary of the results of this survey is included in the latest issue of our print periodical, Compass: The Magazine for Peer Assistance, Mentorship and Coaching.

If you're considering establishing a mentoring program for your organization, Peer Resources can assist with a comprehensive offering of resources and services that includes training, publications, and support and consultation. We welcome your enquiries.

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