Mentorship Program: Who Needs That?

The benefits of mentoring are myriad. For individuals, studies show that good mentoring can lead to greater career success, including promotions, raises, and increased opportunities. Organizations that embrace mentoring are rewarded with higher levels of employee engagement, retention, and knowledge sharing. In fact, mentoring has proved so beneficial that 71% of Fortune 500 companies offer mentoring programs to their employees.

While these statistics are encouraging, it’s important to remember that mentoring is not a magic wand that automatically creates success. The truth is that effective mentoring takes effort, and creating successful mentoring relationships requires specific skills, sensibilities, and structure from both the mentor and the mentee.

Success happens when both parties take responsibility for making it work. Success happens when best practices are in place and so on and so forth.

The Difference Between Mentoring and Coaching

I have noticed that due to a lack of understanding on the subject, many organisations confuse or mix up the two. Below are a few of the key differences between mentoring and coaching, compared.


  1. Mentoring is often longer-term with some mentoring relationships lasting 6+ months and in several cases, mentoring can last for over a year. In fact, some famous mentors and mentees cite lifelong mentoring relationships.
  2. No qualifications are required for mentoring, which means that it is easy for organisations to start mentoring programmes quickly. Yes, mentoring training is often recommended but it certainly isn’t required
  3. As mentioned, mentoring is a lot more directive. It is about the mentor sharing their knowledge, experience, and skills, telling the mentee, and guiding them through direction.
  4. Typically, mentoring is less structured than coaching and whilst having a mentoring meeting agenda and goals is recommended, it will be up to the mentee to put this together, compared with coaching which typically follows a more rigorous structure.
  5. Finally, mentoring is mainly development-driven and looks to the mentee to decide what they wish to achieve and which goals they have for their mentoring relationships.


  1. Coaching is often shorter-term and may be as short as a quick 10- or 15-minute conversation. In some cases, coaching relationships can be longer-term too.
  2. There is training in coaching skills and a lot of coaching qualifications are available, and almost always necessary and certainly recommended, to be a truly effective coach.
  3. Unlike mentoring, coaching is non-directive which means that it is about posing the right questions, providing the space, trust, and confidence for the individual being coached to consider how they can achieve more, reach their objectives and find capabilities within themselves.
  4. Typically, coaching is structured by line managers or sponsors, so organisations will often sponsor an individual to be coached or a line manager will send an employee to be coached for certain skills.
  5. Coaching is performance-driven and encourages the individual(s) being coached to perform in their day-to-day roles.

What Makes A Good Mentor?

A good mentor needs to be more than just a successful professional. A good mentor must have the disposition and desire to develop other people. It requires a willingness to reflect on and share one’s own experiences, including one’s failures. Great mentors must be able to both “talk the talk” and “walk the walk.”

Qualities We Must Look For

  1. A good mentor has to have a desire to develop and help others. A good mentor is sincerely interested in helping someone else without any “official” reward. Good mentors do it because they genuinely want to see someone else succeed.
  2. Current and relevant industry or organisational knowledge, expertise, and/or skills are a must-have. The best mentors have deep knowledge in an area that the mentee wishes to develop.
  3. A willingness to share failures and personal experiences. Mentors need to share both their “how I did it right and their “how I did it wrong” stories. Both experiences provide valuable opportunities for learning.
  4. A growth mindset and learning attitude. The best teachers have always been and always will be those who remain curious learners themselves. Would you rather be advised by someone whose mind is shut because he knows it all or by someone whose mind is open because she is always looking to deepen her knowledge?
  5. Skill in developing others. This includes the very real skills of: active listening, asking powerful, open-ended questions, self-reflection, providing feedback and being able to share stories that include personal anecdotes, case examples, and honest insight.

What Makes A Good Mentee?

Just as there are specific characteristics of a successful mentor, there are attributes and sensibilities that make for a good mentee. This is important because mentees must remember that mentors are doing this from the goodness of their heart, so being a good mentee is the best way to ensure the relationship enjoys a healthy purposeful existence. Mentees need to be:

  1. Committed to expanding their capabilities and focused on achieving professional results.
  2. Clear about their career goals, needs, and wants. Mentoring isn’t therapy where one just rambles aimlessly. mentees are responsible for creating the mentoring agenda, so they must be clear about what they hope to get from mentoring.
  3. Willing to ask for help, show vulnerability, and explore different paths and perspectives. Mentees must be open and receptive to learning and trying new ideas. No mentor wants to advise someone who isn’t open to learning!
  4. Able to seek and accept feedback — even the “constructive” kind and act upon it.
  5. Be personally responsible and accountable. Mentors want to see movement and growth. If you say you are going to do something, then do it! Sitting on the sidelines in a mentoring relationship is not going to work.

Last Word

To summarize, mentorship programs have become an increasingly popular resource as organizations recognize the value of employee development. Mentorship relationships happen naturally within any professional setting when someone with more experience (the mentor) offers valuable insights to someone with less experience (the mentee). But establishing formal mentorship programs adds the structure and consistency necessary for long-lasting and positive outcomes.

Here are the final takeaways for a successful mentor-mentee relationship:

  1. Communicate often
  2. Schedule regular meetings, at least once a month
  3. Prepare before meetings and reflect afterward
  4. Share goals
  5. Seek feedback


Muhammad Sajwani
Muhammad Sajwani
Muhammad Sajwani is a management consultant and a corporate trainer working in the capacity of Managing Director, Evolve HR Consulting. Muhammad is amongst the prominent management practitioners in Pakistan and brings along thirty years of local & international experience as a practitioner of Appreciative Inquiry philosophy. His ability to relate with people from diverse backgrounds and occupations is his core strength. He is a leading inspirational speaker and change catalyst specializing in unleashing the human genius through Leadership, Creativity and Change Management. As a facilitator he is able to excite peoples’ imagination and inspires them to strive for extraordinary achievements. He encourages participants to focus on their ability to become what they desire by leveraging the power of human passion that is guided by a set of principles, values and ethics. His uncanny intuitive capacity helps him recognize team dynamics and build synergies. This has made him a sought after trainer for ‘Team building’ programs. Muhammad has been instrumental in helping organizations come to terms with organizational changes like right-sizing and business process re-engineering. His innovative approach & high personal competence encourages people to not only accept change, but also to excel in it. Over the years, Muhammad has developed many branded training products which can be customized to meet specific requirements of companies operating in different countries & cultures. Muhammad has diverse experience in conducting strategic & management development programs, conferences & events for organizations across sectors. Muhammad has been engaged as senior consultant and facilitator with a multitude of for-profit and not-for profit entities such as Aga Khan Development Network, Hospitality companies, Medical Institutions & many others. Muhammad Sajwani holds an MBA in Marketing and has worked for finest organization within and outside Pakistan i.e. Telenor, Jazz and Grameenphone, and travelled extensively & regularly attends courses in Pakistan & abroad.

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  1. A good article on subject to my heart Mentorship. a mentor and mentee should have unique relationship like a transmitter and receiver, both working on same frequency. It is the Mentor’s vision and observations after due analysis are shared with the mentee. It may not be obligatory to follow the advice but to my experience it is extremely difficult to overlook , as it is bound by trust, respect and appreciation that for his or her good.

    In real live, I never knew when exactly; I found a mentor and started following him.