What does mentoring actually mean?
‘Mentor’ can sound like a dauntingly broad term. Does it mean being ever-present in someone’s life? Does it require any special expertise? No. We ask for a minimum of one hour per month, to talk to a young person about their goals. That’s it.
This is not to say that being a good solicitor won’t make you a good mentor to an aspiring lawyer; it will help. The most important skills, though, are empathy and the ability to listen. Can you understand the challenges a young person is facing and see things from their point of view? Can you offer any advice, or even just encouragement, without passing judgment? If you can, you’re ready to sign up.
The different forms of mentoring
Mentoring involves a one-to-one relationship based on face-to-face meetings. However, this includes a range of flexible modes and methods (http://www.mandbf.org/mbf-membership/what-is-mentoring-and-befriending).
- Mentoring is best delivered face-to-face, where the participants meet in person. However, a mentoring relationship can be over Skype or telephone.
- Mentoring can be delivered one-to-one or in a group, where a mentor leads a group of people with a shared focus or aim.
- Peer-to-peer mentoring is when a group of people of a similar age or experience support and encourage each other.
- Intergenerational mentoring is when older/retired people mentor someone younger, encouraging understanding and communication across generations.
Reverse mentoring is when the traditional mentoring roles are reversed. Often, it is when older and younger figures within an organisation work together, to educate one another on their different perspectives and experiences.