Become The Best Mentor In Your Company

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The benefits that mentors can bring to a company are countless. These helpful individuals are in charge of giving valuable feedback and transfer institutional knowledge to those employees with less experience within the company. However, to carry out effective mentoring processes can be a bit of a challenge because some companies do not see this partnership as a priority that would render benefits for all. Helping young employees to deal with their position in the company and to understand organizational policies and processes would reduce a lot of mistakes the younger employees tend to make. In fact, great potential entrepreneurs have been guided and nurtured by wise mentors.

Other advantages of being a mentor may include: to have a current organizational perspective, to have a new understanding of different work procedures that new generations are actually using and to ensure satisfaction and accomplishment in professional goals.  This is why a mentor should carry out this task in a very meticulous and careful way.  They are the role models to be followed. If you really want to become a better mentor, here are a few pointers:

Start and develop a relationship between you and your mentee

Initially, you need to select the person who is going to be mentored. The aim to develop an empowering and healthy relationship with the individual, set future goals, and follow-up on what was agreed upon.

Encourage your mentee

Being available for the mentees will foster a sense of trust that will encourage them to develop more skills, abilities and gain more visibility before their superiors. Additionally, finding what mentees consider inspiring and motivating helps mentors encourage them to excel in their professional career. You can create new opportunities for your mentees as well, for example connecting them to your work network or motivating them to do professional ventures that they find satisfying.

Pay attention to the organization’s work environment

On the one hand, a good mentor should always be aware of aspects that are harming a healthy work environment.  On the other hand, he or she should stimulate positive aspects that are bringing forth new and positive opportunities for the mentee.  There are many existing opportunities within the company that you can take advantage of.

Provide guidance and counseling

A Mentor could be a model of dependability for a mentee. Mentees that trust will follow, reach agreed upon goals and provide feedback for their mentors. That is why good mentors show availability for regular sessions and prepare themselves with great insight that would edify and make the most of the time shared with the mentee.  Good mentors can also help their mentees face challenges or problems they might face in their current specific positions.  They are ready to listen in order to provide much needed counsel and advice.

Teach and share your insight

Good mentors are in charge of imparting knowledge and useful lessons learned from previous work experiences.  They communicate clearly what they know and their strategies as well. They also suggest practical material and training for helping mentees improve their work performance.

Motivate and inspire your mentees

One of the several functions of a mentor is to provide support, approval and encouragement to their mentees.  The mentor can make sure his mentees’ goals, efforts and interests are aligned with the overall organizational goals.  This way, mentees can engage even more in their work initiatives and professional development.

Appreciate your mentor’s initiatives and opinions

A good mentor will take into account ideas and initiatives that mentees can offer. He appreciates their efforts and empowers them by giving positive feedback.

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The effectiveness in fulfilling the role as a mentor is not exclusively yours, even though you should always carry out you part in the best manner.  Success depends on some other factors as well. Remember that mentoring in the end is a partnership between a mentor and a mentee and the response of the mentee is crucial for obtaining great results as well. Even if you are an excellent mentor, collaboration, willingness and responsiveness on the part of the mentee is required for receiving all the feedback and guidance that is provided. Mentees can also provide feedback and be honest about those aspects that they think are not working out in the relationship.  

It might seem challenging to be a mentor. But what is even more challenging are employees in need of support, trying to do things on their own.  Mentors are crucial in building personnel in meaningful ways, pushing employees to reach heights they never thought they could reach, eliciting ideas they never thought they could have.  Organizations do exist without mentors but they are  losing the chance of using such an amazing tools for organizational growth and entrepreneurial success.

To find out more about the practice of law mentors today on Suzzanne Uhland’s blog, click here to read the article.


The Best 5 Mentoring Books You Must Start Reading Now

Making a list on the best titles of a specific subject is a daunting task due to its subjective nature. However is very useful to come up with a guide to navigate the multitude of books that are coming out everyday. This lists is meant for those interested in coaching or being coached, in understanding the complexities and advantages of this leadership style and in facilitating the exploration of needs, motivations, desires, skills and thought processes to assist the individual in making real, lasting change.

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Business coaching is about helping others to become more successful and reach their full potential. These books are about different aspects of what means to be a coach and to challenge employees to develop their skills and achieve the best results they can produce.

The Pressure Principle: Handle Stress, Harness Energy, and Perform When It Counts
Dr Dave Alred MBE

Dave Alred has helped not only businesses but also athletes achieve goals they thought to be beyond their expectations. Alred is a forerunner in performance psychology; Jonny Wilkinson and Luke Donald are some successful athletes in the world of rugby and golf respectively, who have worked closely with Dr Alred and benefited from his coaching experience. The book analyzes what pressure to perform means and how to harness stress in order to turn it into a driving force for success. Pressure is a constant of life; the pressure to meet deadlines, the pressure to speak in front of others, the pressure to exceed expectations and the pressure in general to work and live in this ever-changing world. The book focuses on principles outlined by the author and working through his tried and tested method to turn pressure into the fuel that motivates you and those you manage through the road to greatness.

The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way Your Lead Forever
Michael Bungay Stanier

Michael Bungay Stanier is mainly famous for his 90,000 copies sold of Do More Great Work and also his book End Malaria, a collection of essays by 62 of American’s favorite business authors. This title helped raise $400,000 in funds for the organization Malaria No More. In The Coaching Habit, the author teaches how to create an environment in which coaching comes as an automatic attitude that is part of your everyday routine. The book revolves around seven questions that are fundamental in building a strategy to develop coaching methods that produce great results. The questions are named as such: The Kickstart, The Awe, The Lazy, The Strategic, The Focus, The Foundation and The Learning Question. The book combines insider knowledge with research focused in neuroscience and behavioral economics, along with interactive training tools to turn real-world advice into proficient habits.

The Coaching Mindset: 8 Ways to Think Like a Coach
Chad Hall

This short but interesting e-book outlines 8 specific methods to change the way you see coaching and find new approaches and perspectives to approach it. The book is a must read for those new into coaching, is a fast read and with easy to process concepts that will help you find your way in the world of coaching.

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Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time
Keith Ferrazzi

Keith Ferrazzi is a known expert in the areas of professional relationship development and networking. This book in particular, revolutionized the way people see networking in general and highlights the way successful people build relationships focusing in success.

At first this may not seem too closely related to the subject of coaching, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Truly understanding how to connect to others makes a world of difference in coaching and motivating those around you to reach their full potential.

The book outlines some key principles to consider when establishing a relationship with co-workers, family, friends, colleagues and business partners alike. Some of these concepts are evident when we look at famous personalities that are characteristically well connected, such as Bill Clinton, Winston Churchill and the Dalai Lama.

The Prosperous Coach: Increase Income and Impact for You and Your Clients
Steve Chandler

Steve Chandler is a man with more than 20 years of experience in coaching professionals helping them improve their success in every aspect of their life. He is not the author of more than 30 books translated into 25 different languages and he is also a motivational speaker and consultant to many Fortune 500 companies and universities.

The Prosperous Coach is an excellent book, highly recommended due to its revolutionary approach to coaching, always geared towards an one-on-one approach and pursuing your goals and success in the career you love. How do you make life-changing choices? How do you offer the best of yourself to your clients? How do you set yourself apart from other coaches and make sure their setbacks do not become your own? The answers to these questions and more can be found in the pages of this wonderful title.

So it is time for a mentoring program: here is how to get started.

So your company is at the point where they need to hire or train new staff to keep growing. What to do? Where to start? Of course, human resources departments have many strategies that help find the right people for the company and have strategies to make employees feel happy within the company. But you want something different, a different approach that can take advantage of the resources you already have. Here is where you know you have to start a Mentoring Program and that this decision has to be one that has an exclusively positive impact. Mentoring can improve employee satisfaction and retention, enrich new-employee initiation, make your company more appealing to recruits, and train your leaders.

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Another advantage of mentoring programs is that most of them are free. Yes, there are many training programs and course that cost money (and they are worth every cent), but mentoring programs use the resources that your company already has. Let’s take a quick view on how to get started and the things you need to make the program work if you are a small company with a great vision or if you are a big company looking for strategies to train your staff:

First, identify the real need and create a structure:

Before even thinking of a mentoring program you need to ask yourself why do you need this program and who is it aimed at. The company has to define what the objective of the program will be and the target. So, if you are aiming for higher minority retention rates, your program will be structured differently than if you were trying to develop leaders, teach a specific skill, or welcome newcomers to your organization.

Another important thing is that you need to develop a program that fits with your company and that aligns the structure of your program with the culture of your company. If your company is extremely formal, it would be advisable to have a formal application process, with timetables and deadlines for the duration for the mentoring relationships (typically mentoring relationships last between six months and two years, depending on the goal of the mentee). If your company is informal, it might be okay to match people up and then let them figure out the logistics. But it is of most importance to at least set the game rules and objectives so the program does not shift to a different place.

Second, pairing mentors and mentees.

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There are many types of mentoring programs and many companies that change, redesign and reinvent the programs that already exist. Some companies, like Morgan Stanley, use group mentoring, others use peer mentoring, others bring in an expert for facilitated mentoring, some other companies  have lower-level employees teach higher-level employees in reverse mentoring, and others even use a speed-dating format for “flash mentoring.” Bottom line is that mentoring is about putting people together to learn something that will bring a benefit in the future. So, pairing mentees and mentors is the core activity for the mentoring process.

It sound incredible, but this is the area where corporate academics know the least about. Surprisingly, there are some companies that have applied the mentoring program like a dating service. Tammy Allen, a professor of psychology at the University of South Florida and co-author of Designing Workplace Mentoring Programs: An Evidence-Based Approach, says that “You can almost think about this as some type of dating service. There are some companies that actually purchase from vendors that have created these algorithms that are used to match mentors and protégés almost like an eHarmony system for dating.” Tammy also says that the programs in which the participants have some input are usually the most successful. You should read your company carefully to understand which people to match. Allowing your employees to have a say in this process is very important because mentoring programs are about relationships and not only information.

Educate about the process

So now your mentors and mentees are ready to go off to work, first educate them a little bit on what they will be doing, why it is important to have a mentoring program, what to expect from the program and what format will be used. This could be done informally as this will prepare mentors and mentees on what will come in the future. There are a lot of formats you can use to do this such as classroom-style discussion, hiring someone to host a “mentoring bootcamp,” or you can speak to mentors and mentees separately and then bring them together to discuss.

Mentoring programs work for any type of company. Apart from using these 3 small steps before even starting, you can play with the program so you can fit it to your company and its corporate environment.

Things to consider when it comes to mentors and startups

Let us talk about an issue that is now losing its meaning: I am referring to people who are mentoring startup companies. As I’ve mentioned before, the word “mentor” comes from Méntor, a character of Homer’s epic poem Odyssey, Telemachus’ counselor. And this role of being a counselor or a guide can also be related to the idea of a schoolmaster, a person in charge of guarding children or young people and caring for their upbringing and education.

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When it comes to startups, the most fitting definition is the first one, the one that refers to counseling and guiding. These brand new companies need a person who will, especially at first, give them added value in the form of business ideas, contacts, advice on mistakes not to be made, among others.

I am among those who have argued that this is a good idea, that you have to use all possible resources and surround yourself with mentors or advisors. Regardless of how you call them, it is something interesting. And in life there are situations that are white, black and many different shades of gray in between, and it is certainly safe to say that extreme cases have increased lately.

And sometimes those extreme cases are diminished when we ask ourselves certain questions, when we think of the key factors to choose -or not to choose- a mentor. Here are those basic questions:

  1. Do I need it? This is a question that should definitely be asked, because you may not need it.
  2. What do I want from this mentor? What do I need and what don’t I need?
  3. How can I measure his or her participation in my startup? What am I going to demand?
  4. What am I going to give him or her? Do I even have to give something?

Because a mentor should be someone who is involved in your project, someone that you can be demanding of, and someone with which you can adequately assess their participation.

And you have to be very demanding: either you have the best or you don’t. Because having mediocrity and giving shares to mediocre people is very dangerous.

These are the points you should consider and look after in order to work, if you have decided that you do want to have a mentor:

  1. I said it already: either you have the best or you don’t.
  2. What do you need? Because a mentor’s thing is to see what your weaknesses are and in them is where you should try to look for a mentor.
  3. Don’t value things that are payable or things that cost very little. An article about your company in a blog is not really worth anything, just a few visits a day that will take you nowhere. If your company is a good one, journalists and bloggers will want to write about it when you contact them. They lack news and good examples.
  4. What is unpayable is that the person gets involved as if this was his or her company. And if you really think you deserve it, you can even ask them to invest.
  5. Measure through a contract what you want, how much of it and how do you want it. Pretty faces are not worth it just because they’re pretty. Always demand dedication and do it in writing, and as you have probably chosen your mentor for a reason, ask him for added value in what you know he’s best.
  6. Do not hand out large stakes, even more so if the mentor is not an investor.
  7. Get away from people who do this in an organized way. If this is your business, if you are a professional mentor, you do not have any value.

Why would I want to have Bill Gates or Steve Jobs in my company if they don’t believe in my product or they don’t help me? They may attract people to invest, but don’t you realize that neither Steve nor Bill have time for you? I’d want to have many different innovative entrepreneurs as my mentors, but how many of those are company mentors? And if they are, how many investments have they truly made? I’m afraid the answer would be close to zero.

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In addition to the advice a mentor can give to entrepreneurs, the goal of this role is to help them build a business plan, polish their discourse and offer deep consulting with face to face feedback. The network of contacts that the mentor has made in his career, from allied companies, potential customers or investors, is made available to the entrepreneur.

If you’re good, everyone will know about it. If you’re not and you let bad mentors accompany you, and you’ve given everything to them, well you’ll be worse off than if you had not even begun at all.

The 5 Most Important Ways Mentoring And Coaching Differ

Mentoring is one of the most powerful personal development and empowerment tools available to guide people to progress in their paths of personal and professional growth. More than simply being a guided instruction, mentoring is a partnership between mentor and protégé who work in a similar field or share related life experiences in order to develop solutions to career related issues and challenges aided by a helpful relationship based upon mutual trust and respect.

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Coaching is defined as “a process that enables learning and development to occur and thus performance to improve. To be a successful a Coach requires a knowledge and understanding of process as well as the variety of styles, skills and techniques that are appropriate to the context in which the coaching takes place”. Coaching takes an approach of focusing on helping the “coachee” discover answers for themselves and figure things out on his own.

Mentoring and coaching both have many benefits, such as facilitating the explorations of needs, motivations, skills, desires, thoughts and ideas to aid individuals into making fruitful changes or guiding them in a specific direction to make the most out of their potential. Ultimately this is what all of it is about, enhancing the knowledge, skills and abilities of people so that they can increase their success in performing the tasks in which they are being coached or mentored in.

Many people find both of these terms to be interchangeable, but there are a few key differences that set both of these practices apart from each other. Here can see some of the main differentiations between coaching and mentoring:

Tasks versus relationship.

Coaching is more of a task-oriented activity. The guidance is geared towards rectifying or enforcing a particular skill such as effective speaking, learning to make more strategic decisions or deciding a better direction in a career path. These processes of course, requires an expert who is able to teach the coachee, how to best harness these skills.

While coaching takes this task specific approach, mentoring goes about it in the opposite manner. Mentoring focuses more on building a relationship to provide the mentee with a safe environment where he or she is able to share concern for the issues that may affect his personal and professional success. It is common to set specific goals and benchmarks in order to gain motivation looking at particular tasks to be achieved, but this is simply part of the bigger picture and doesn’t stop there. Creating a relationship includes things such as work/life balance, self-confidence, self-perception, and how the personal influences the professional.  


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Length of the intervention.

Coaching for the most part has a short-term approach. The coach only stays with the coachee for as long as is necessary in order to achieve the purpose of the intervention. This may take a few sessions, but it will most likely be a short-term relationship.

Mentoring on the other hand, requires time to be spent building a relationship between both parties so they can learn about one another and thus form an environment of trust in which the mentee can feel safe to disclose the real issues that influence their achievements. An average mentoring relationship can last about nine months to a full year.

Performance and development.

Coaching’s purpose is to enhance and improve an individual’s performance on their particular occupation. This process involves either improving on existing skills or acquiring news ones. Once this is accomplished, the coach is no longer needed.

Mentoring is actually development driven. The purpose of this approach is to prepare the individual beyond their current job and into their future as a person and as a professional.

The design process or lack thereof.

Coaching can be conducted starting almost immediately and requires no prior design required. Obviously there are instances in which some design is necessary, especially when the coaching is supposed to be give to a large group of individuals. Regardless of this, the effort that goes into choosing methods of approach is relatively short.

Meanwhile, mentoring requires of a relatively lengthy design phase. It is important to identify key areas to improve upon in order to make the most of the relationship. A carefully crafted design phase is instrumental in the success of the mentoring process.

Experience of the guide and management involvement.

When coaching is involved, the immediate managers of the coachee play an important role in the process. Feedback is usually shared and utilized in order to guide the coaching process. Coaches don’t always have direct experience of their coachee’s formal occupational role, unless the coaching is very specific and skill-driven.

Mentoring occurs outside of the manager’s jurisdiction so to speak. Their suggestions may be offered and accepted when going through the matching process, but do not communicate at all with mentors during the mentoring relationship. Sometimes, mentors are senior individuals in the organization who can pass on knowledge, experience and open doors to otherwise difficult to obtain opportunities.

Good mentors always detect when their employees are about to quit.

Mentors are wise people who are trusted to be counselor or teachers. Their influence and comments are the ones that matters. This is why they must be able to detect some kind of problems such as good and bad leaders, internal problems and people’s perception about them or the company. Nevertheless, they are in charged also of maintaining good employees inside the organization since employee turnover is expensive. It requires a long time for hiring also,  it can be difficult to get the new employee up to speed. A 2012 Allied Workforce Mobility Survey has shown it can take up to a full year for a newly onboarded employee to work up to their full potential in 30 percent of companies.

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These reasons make mentors to be aware and attuned to some signs their best employees have when they are thinking about quitting. Mentors know that thinking workers are happy and would not dream of leaving is the first mistake they can make. The following list present the most common warning signs that employees might leave the company very soon.

1. They ask a lot for permissions and take extra time off

This pattern need to be immediately identified especially, when an employee usually has a good attendance record and suddenly he or she needs more time off, or miss work. This time out could be spent on looking for something else. Think about this, if it is a medical condition, he or she would let you know in advance. Talk to your employee as soon as his or her absences become unusual. Address the situation openly and honestly and asking question about if they are happy in their current situation or if  there is anything that can be done to improve their position at the company will make him or her feel you are worried about the situation and you consider him or her valuable for the company.

2. General apathy

Your team member used to ask questions in meetings and take notes. But, their commitment seem to be disappeared. And, projects or anything related to work seem not to be interesting for them anymore. In addition to this, what was stressful before is now indifferent and they address to situations negatively. It is important to look if the cause is inside or outside the company. If it is inside, talk to them and find out the best option that will make them more interested at work.

3. Gossiping and badmouthing

Your employees are now involved in office gossip and this seems to become a habit. They talk to their coworkers for complaining about everything related to the company.  They look for excuses or simple reasons such as coffee is not good enough in order to create a negative atmosphere. If you notice the eye-rolls are constant, cut off the situation instantly. This will make you lose not only one employee but more. negativity has a way of festering among the rest of the team and it’s highly contagious.

4. You find out some red flags on their body language

Body Language can give you more information that you expected. People can control their words but their actions or movements are more difficult to control. Identify those patterns that shows you an employee is not happy anymore in the company. Those patterns could be lack of eye contact, they are not friendly anymore, they avoid chit chat, they sit on the last seats in the meetings. Pay attention to body language  because even minimal expressions have more content that thousands of words.

5. Sudden Delegation of Responsibilities

Phil Chen, the founder of Sybarite Investments has said “Delegation of responsibilities is important in certain management roles, but it can also be a telltale sign of non-management employees about to quit. Long-time employees take pride in their responsibilities. Giving their responsibilities away could be a sign that they are transitioning out. When you see these signs — and more importantly, before you see them — you should provide consistent positive communication.”

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An important part of being a solid manager is recognizing and being in tune with your team. Having regularly scheduled one-on-one touch bases with your team members is an effective way to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on with your staff.

You also never want to be caught without a contingency plan, in the event your star player leaves. Recognizing that your rock star wants to exit the stage can help you prepare a back-up plan, and notify Human Resources to be on the lookout for new potential candidates.  

What Makes a Bad Mentor? Avoiding Toxic Mentoring

We find that so often that mentors do not realize how powerful their influence is.  There is plenty of information concerning all the things mentors can do to impart their knowledge and insight.  Organizations are implementing structured mentoring programs for their less experienced ones and everybody acknowledges the importance and benefits of mentoring.  

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However, there are some mentors who abuse or distort the mentor-mentee relationship, focusing their efforts on making their protégé more like them, having ulterior motives such as receiving personal credit, achieving frustrated unaccomplished goals instead of helping their mentee’s potential.  There are some insights that mentors can reflect on in order to avoid making some crucial mistakes and guide mentees in the most purposeful way.

Some personal characteristics for successful mentors are role-modeling, respect, good communication skills, wisdom and expertise. They want to support, share their knowledge, give feedback and empower their protégés. In contrast, none of the characteristics that will be listed below will make a great mentor… ever.  Not all mentors are what they appear to be.  Bad mentors (also called “Tormentors” by some people) are those who do not show appropriate professional and personal boundaries, misuse their mentee’s potential, criticize excessively and display other forms of unethical behavior.  Identifying them will help avoid the selection of mentors prone to promote negative conducts and experiences. These are some of the negative mentor’s profiles protégés might encounter:

  • Egocentric: these mentors believe there are flawless, matchless and better than everyone else.  Since they know how to do everything, it is the mentee who should feel privileged and thankful to ever be allowed in their presence. They are self-absorbed and lack a sense of altruism.  They provide mentoring only for their own profit or ulterior motives. They can take credit for the achievements of their mentees.  This practice can destroy the mentee’s motivation and self-confidence.

  • Controlling:  these mentors never want to be challenged.  They expect their mentees to agree completely with everything they suggest. They have a strong need of power; consequently they show a demanding and authoritarian approach, and a disregard for the mentee’s opinions.  Mentees suffer under this regime because they cannot try new ideas of their own and cannot learn as much in the mentoring relationship.  This practice blocks the mentee’s development in many ways by oversupervising or withholding valuable information.

  • Unqualified: these mentors have a false appearance of being knowledgeable and accessible, but they are not.  They lack expertise.  Mentors truly need to know about their field, in terms of content, procedures and experiences, and have the qualifications to provide meaningful guidance.

  • Uninterested:  theses mentors did not want to mentor in the first place and they were assigned for the duty although they did not ask for it.  They would perform carelessly and help their mentees minimally.  Maybe they neglect their protégés because they are too busy due to their careers or organizational workload. These mentors are rarely available for providing support or reviewing their mentee’s goals or concerns.

  • Excessive talker:  Mentors would consider their primary role is to give advice and provide guidance.  That’s understandable.  The problem is they end up talking too much, advising too much, and listening too little to their mentees’ input, questions and concerns.  Learning to listen is a skill that requires practice but it will produce great empathy in the mentor-mentee relationship.
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To summarize, mentors are fundamental for professional progress and career development. They provide their invaluable experience to other individuals.  Mentors are an amazing tool to help others when they do it responsibly and with the right reasons and intentions.  Since mentoring represents such an intense interpersonal relationship, positive and negative experiences can be produced. Negative mentoring experiences can be the product of many factors that involve both mentors and mentees.  In this article I have focused specifically on the mentor’s performance and by no means do I want to state that they are the only ones responsible for negative mentoring experiences.

As can be seen, in order to avoid some unhealthy aspects in the mentoring relationship, organizations have a responsibility to carefully select potential mentors and pair them appropriately with their mentees.  Dysfunctional mentors can be defined as individuals that have wrong underlying intentions in their practice. Some mentors can accept mentoring as a way to exert authority, to pass on unwanted work or to make up for their personal weaknesses. Only those individuals who are really interested in the challenge and have the right motivation and attitude should be encouraged to become mentors.  Equally important is that mentees have the right to ponder what they are being advised and if there is uneasiness in the mentoring relationship they can honestly express their dissatisfaction and, if there is no way to solve the issues, look for other exemplary mentors who are full of passion about what they do and that want to build genuine relationships.