Mentoring can be a highly effective way for people to develop in their jobs, whether managers or not. But there can be drawbacks for an organisation recruiting mentors from within its own workforce: a shortage of competent people; those people may not have sufficient time to do it; and, crucially, some of them may not be very good at mentoring.
Here is a ‘purist’ description of mentoring: “Mentoring is a learning and development process which allows a mentee to discuss any issues or development needs they may have with a more experienced and senior mentor. As a result of the arrangement the mentee will learn and develop through reflective thinking, benefiting from the mentor’s knowledge.” (‘Mentoring Framework’ p2, on the Healthcare Workforce Portal.)
From my experience, for people to develop and grow in their job, in their career, it is not enough for them to learn new techniques and do some reflective thinking. They also need to gain insights about themselves. That requires the intervention of a practitioner who is able to create the ‘facilitating environment’ in which people are most likely to grow as individuals.
This is particularly applicable in situations where someone has an “issue” at work which he or she needs to overcome, whether it is that they have a dysfunctional team, or they are allowing their working methods to diminish the level of patient care they can offer. In these cases, the knowledge which the individual needs the mentor to have is unlikely to be anything to do with the job in hand and there is no reason to expect the would-be mentor to have it.
For all the reasons cited above, it is most useful for the mentor to be specially trained and experienced in mentoring, rather than in the job the protégé needs to work on, and this person may well best be brought in from outside.
By the way, the document cited above includes a comparison of ‘mentor’ and ‘coach’ which a lot of people in both categories would disagree with! I believe it is more important to consider the nature of the relationship the protégé needs, and the content of the communication, whatever the practitioner is called.
So, how do you go about finding a practitioner? I think you answer a different question: “what do I need?”
I find that, whenever anybody tells me they have a need, it’s rarely what they really need. So, be curious about why you have that need. Don’t be satisfied with your first response.
As for how you measure the benefits, be clear what you need to measure. When people ask me how I measure what I do, I ask them how they would like me to measure it. This is not a facetious reply. It respects the fact that any mentoring/coaching programme has to start with an identification by the client of what it is intended to achieve: whether an improvement in particular skills or areas of work, or a reduction in problems, difficulties.
If, after three months, a client reports a “substantial” reduction in their stress levels (for example), I am not sure that it is meaningful, or adds anything, to attach a number to their stress levels before and after and subtract one from the other! If, however, as a result of being less stressed, someone manages their team better, resulting in the team (and the manager) doing their work more efficiently and taking less time off sick, then you can measure the direct consequential changes of the programme (less absence, less time taken to do work, and so on).