I recently began a mentorship with a colleague of mine, and it really got me thinking. Here is the story.
I had been thinking for a while about how to effectively help this colleague get the promotion and hours they desperately wanted, but which they could never quite obtain. This thought process sent me down a path of trying to determine the differences between training and mentorship and which I needed to use. In the beginning, I realized that this employee had been haphazardly trained and I thought that I needed to just transfer knowledge whenever possible. The problem was that when it came down to it, the majority of the time, my colleague already had the knowledge they needed. They just chose not to act usually out of apathy or distrust of themselves. After coming to this realization, I began to explore other methods of helping this employee, and that is where I found mentoring. I’m sure you have found yourself in similar situations before. So how can you tell the difference between when it’s time train and when it’s time to be a mentor?
First, let’s talk about the differences.
Works to increase your skill set
Allows you to be more comfortable using your skills
Does not always have a timeline on when you will use your acquired skills
Aids your continued improvement of existing skills
Has a short-term focus
The ownership of the process lies with the trainer
Works to increase your understanding of your role or direction in your life/career
Increases your awareness of yourself and life in general
Is an evolving plan/process and adapts to the situation
Boosts your confidence in yourself and your decision-making abilities
Ownership of the process lies with the mentee/learner
So now you know differences, when should you use what?
Use Training if
The person involved needs skill enhancement or skill improvement
The person involved needs more confidence due to a lack of understanding or existence of the skills required in the situation causing the issue
This will be a short-term relationship where you give the person what they need, and they will then go on their way
Use Mentoring if:
The person involved is unsure of their role in the organization or life or is uncertain of their direction moving forward
The person involved needs more confidence due to a lack of self-esteem or other reasons, not due to a lack of skills or understanding of said skills
You expect to have to work with this person over the long-term to cause an ideological shift
If this quote applies to the person: “You already have what you need locked up inside, you just need to find the key to letting it out!”
A Helpful Acronym
The next time you find yourself in a situation where you are unsure if you should merely train the person or mentor them, remember UNI.
Unsure – The person is unsure of their role/direction
Confidence – The person needs more confidence for reasons other than lack of skills or understanding of said skills
Ideology – The person needs an ideological shift to enhance their performance/behavior.
If the answer is yes to UNI, you need to mentor them!
I hope this provides the information you need to make a good decision between the two. My goal at the Half Hour Manager is to provide you with actionable and practical information and none of that high-level unactionable crap.