Mentoring is an educational process where a mentor serves as teacher and provides opportunities for professional development, growth and support to those with less experience.

Those being mentored receive information, encouragement, advice and feedback on a regular basis. Mentoring is not having someone there to solve your problems, but having someone you can turn to discuss options and provide the benefit of their experience.

Mentoring can work both ways. Business leaders can mentor members of community groups or individuals supported by community groups by providing advice in areas such as administration, marketing and law. But community leaders can also act as mentors, helping business partners to understand the mood of the community and develop methods of community collaboration.

This increases the knowledge and capacity of the community, as well as promoting learning in both groups.

Mentoring can involve a professional of any occupation, but good programs feature:

  • A strong desire to develop talent and share knowledge.
  • Time, energy and commitment to be available when most needed.
  • Ability to offer coaching, ideas and advice, but allowing others to make their own decisions.
  • Recognition that it is not "right" or "wrong" decisions that produce learning, but the process of coming to those decisions.
  • A commitment to providing regular feedback, positive and negative.
  • The ability to let your protégés experiment, even if it leads to mistakes.
  • An understanding that they don't have to follow the same path that you have taken.
  • A sense of shared joy when the person you are mentoring succeeds and achieves.

Mentoring can assist an inexperienced person's development by:
  • Opening up new opportunities.
  • Providing constructive advice.
  • Giving them someone to share problems/challenges with.
  • Helping them set targets.
  • Improving their self-esteem.

Mentoring can help the mentor themselves by:
  • Making them aware of the needs, concerns and obstacles faced by others.
  • Enhancing their career development.
  • Developing new skills and attributes.
  • Introducing them to new people.
  • Providing a sense of achievement or fulfilment.
Mentoring can also help a business by:
  • Establishing or improving community and customer connections.
  • Improving your business's image by showing that it works to build community capacity.
  • Aiding staff development.
  • Providing an insight into a particular section of the community.