Mentoring is a vital vet underutilized component in the development of any individual or institution – business or educational. While, commonly believed to have been originated in ancient Greece;mentoring was prevalent in Vedic times as well, when Raja-rishis (royal sages, better translated as royal mentors) mentored princes from a young age and providing them with counsel and perspective whenever sought.
These mentoring institutions were known during Vedic times as “Guru-shishya Paramparas” (lines of gurus and disciples) which undoubtedly created India’s historically acclaimed rulers, thinkers and yogis. It also produced effective role models, individuals with positive motivations and improved efficiency as well as a reduction of all negative emotional tendencies. At the Vedic Management Center (VMC) , the Mentoring program follows the Vedic tradition in order to foster the growth and development of mentees along the path to wisdom and abundance.
Vedic Leadership Mentoring at VMC is a one to one relationship between the mentor and mentee. We place a significant emphasis on confidentiality in the instruction, since understanding and trusting each one another is a key factor in achieving a transformative level of communication. We emphasize the principle of “institutional development through individual development.” The individual is the foundation of life and consciousness and an aware individual is necessary to properly guide any organization or process.
Our mentees are can derive the following benefits:
- Become a positive role model both in terms of knowledge and perspective
- Gain a source of guidance and insight
- A safe confidant or friend for dialogue and debate
- A place to challenge the mind and question preconceived ideas
- Access to Vedic networks and learning sources
- Gaining responsibility over ones own learning and career goals
- Increased self-esteem and higher motivation levels
- Scope to enhance existing skills & learn new skills effortlessly
Mentee’s organizations can derive the following benefits:
- Better recruitment, retention and training for present and future employees
- Means of supporting succession planning and networking across all levels
- Motivation of the workforce with a positive and expansive outlook
- Improved communication across the hierarchy of personnel
- Tacit knowledge sharing across the institution
- Building a robust and constant learning culture
- Maximizing the institution’s human potential for comprehensive growth
- Sustaining an organic and adaptable structure for the organization
The scope of our mentoring process can either have a precisely defined framework or can allow participants to develop their own timing. In both the approaches, our mentoring relationship flows through five distinctly recognizable phases, namely:
- Road Mapping
- Understanding: In this phase we lay ground work for a productive relationship . Values play an important role at this stage both for developing a rapport and towards eventual realization of goals.The values include :
Trust – It is imperative that anything discussed is kept confidential and all commitments are adhered to.
Focus – Without having a clear focus the mentor/mentee association has a poor chance of attaining their desired objectives. It’s therefore important to ensure that there’s active communication and focus to understanding issues and perspective.
Empathy – There must be mutual respect between the mentor and mentee. The mentor empathizes with the mentee’s point of view, feelings, ambitions and drives, in order to gain a clear picture of the present issues and future goals.
Congruence – There should be a shared sense of purpose for the relationship and the confidence to talk about the fears, weakness or mistakes of both individuals.
Empowerment – The mentoring relationship is a means of empowering the mentee , and develop a new generation of leaders with a sense of purpose towards self and society.
- Road Mapping: Having clear aims and objectives is important in creating a sense of purpose and in some respects, a sense of urgency as well. The mentee needs to articulate, to the mentor , what kind of development they wish to achieve and which spheres.Specific issues are highlighted at this stage.
- Progression: This is the mature and the most productive stage of the mentoring relationship, since the mentor and the mentee will have understood one another by this time, and the relationship would in a very dynamic phase. The mentee will show more independence as his or her confidence grows and will be in less need of support and advice from the mentor. The ground rules will no doubt be well understood and the meeting agenda, structure, and timing factors will already be established. It is also useful to look at the way the sessions are being managed to ensure the best use of time and the mentoring relationship. A review(by the mentee) of all the elements of the mentoring relationship is strongly recommended to allow for any adjustments and plans to be added, if necessary.
- Validation: In this phase, the development goals are being realised against predefined objectives. The mentee gradually becomes more self-reliant and should be in charge of the direction of the mentoring process, so that the mentor’s role is much more responsive. The culmination of the relatiosnhip is in sight. Alternatively, a much wider range of issues may be examined with mutual agreement. Many of these could be outside the scope of the mentee’s initial goals. In this situation, it is important to note that boundaries of the mentoring relationship do not involve the mentee’s personal life
- Conclusion: Vedic teachings have always advocated that the mentee (shishya) must never overstay his time with his mentor (Guru), lest the mentee becomes wholly dependent on the mentor and loses independent thinking. Once the mentee, has benefited positively from the association he needs to move on. However, he can refer back to the mentor for perspective on difficult issues , but only after the mentee has exhausted all avenues of thinking and finding a possible solution .
We consider the eMentoring option to be an entirely new form of mentoring that has been developed over recent years and is continuing to gain popularity. This form of distance mentoring can be utilized to overcome time and lcoation barriers, besides complimenting the traditional face to face mentoring process. The availability of email and internet access have created a whole new paradigm of mentoring – communication through electronic messaging systems such as telephone, skype, email, internet chat rooms, online course material, and bulletin boards. This is what we call eMentoring.
eMentoring can either be formal or informal. It can provide a whole range of services from programme support to personal relationships. eMentoring works well for information based communication, particularly for specific instructions or explanations. Personal relationships are also possible to develop through electronic communications, and without actual face to face meetings, but the individuals must be comfortable with distance forms of communication. eMentoring can combine a variety of distance methods visual or non-visual.
The mechanics of eMentoring in practice are straightforward, where the mentee will send in a message the issues important to him or her at that time. Using, for example, email designed to enable the receiver to insert text into original message, the mentor can then “thread” his or her responses between the mentee’s sentences. Threading is a really important aspect since you can highlight elements of the text that are important and insert your response next to them. This is the next best thing to having an actual conversation.
Ground rules, of course, must be agreed upon, just as in a conventional mentoring relationship. Instead of regular meetings, regular times for sending and receiving email messages can be set up. The benefit of email is being able to send and receive messages at any time – day or night. The flexibility is particularly important if the mentor and/or mentee have busy personal and professional lives.
Perhaps the greatest opportunity eMentoring offers to mentees is greater choice and diversity in choosing mentors. Theoretically, an individual can be mentored by someone on a different continent, has be turned into a reality. One of the key components for the new learning possible here is to value diversity. eMentoring opens the door to enormous diversity in potential mentors and mentees. If people understand and endorse this principle, they can look for an eMentor or eMentee who is different rather than similar to them, either in temperament and culture, and will have a more potentially transformative interaction for it.
Techniques and Process
At the Vedic Management Center the following techniques and process are adopted for efficiently conducting and implementing the mentoring process:
- Understanding the Right Perspective: The mentor and mentee may have a very different set of experiences, values and ambitions from each other, especially if they are from different cultures. It is therefore, important to recognize the existence and validity of such differences, and clarify them at the onset. Having a good understanding of each other’s’ perspectives will lead to more fruitful discussions, and appreciating cultural nuances.
- Developing Networks – A mentor can help the mentee develop his own networks by sharing networking techniques and helping the mentee determine how to develop and maintain good relationships with others.
- Being a good role model – Effective mentors always become good role models for their mentees. However, they need to be mindful that the mentee may likely adopt some of their behaviour patterns automatically and potential weaknesses, which may not be appropriate. Therefore, the mentor must help the mentee to determine what behaviour fits best with their particular personality type and individual strengths.
- Being a critical friend – Plain, straightforward speaking is not always comfortable either for the mentor or the mentee, but it is one of the main things they are most likely to appreciate and benefit from in the long run. Plain talking and effective challenging will lead to a more meaningful dialogue, deeper reflection and better learning outcomes.
- Giving Advice – Experienced mentors do not jump into solution mode for solving the mentee’s problems. The mentee is encouraged to develop his or her own solutions through the use of effective questions and inquiries. However, there are times when a simple “This is what you need to do” is an appropriate approach. At VMC , mentors are capable in understanding contexts when to give advice and when to hold back and letting the mentee discover the answer for themselves.
- Career Planning – A mentor can draw upon knowledge and experience of the organization to help the mentee identify specific career paths and job opportunities within the organization.
- Encouraging and supporting – There will be times when a mentor is a sounding board to listen and help a mentee regain their confidence and ability to make their own decisions.
Code of Practice
The following points provide a general code of practice for the mentoring relationship at Vedic Management Center:
- Mentoring is a confidential activity, in which both parties have a duty to care for each other.
- The mentor’s role is to respond to the mentee’s developmental needs and agenda and not to impose his own upon the mentee.
- Mentor and mentee should take adequate time to discuss and agree upon the aims and objectives of the mentoring relationship.
- Mentor and mentee should discuss and agree upon the necessary ground rules used to govern the mentoring process.
- The mentee must over time accept increasing responsibility for managing the relationship and the mentor must empower them to do so.
- Mentor and mentee must be open and truthful to each other about the nature of their communication, regularly reviewing how it might be improved for better understanding and more effective action.
- Mentor and mentee may choose to conclude their association at any given point in time, if it is not working for either of them. However, they have a responsibility to first discuss the matter thoroughly together, as part of a mutual learning process before the association is concluded.
- Mentor and mentee share responsibility for the smooth winding down of the relationship, when it has achieved its purpose. For this a specific time frame of association and specific topics of examination is first mapped out.