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What is Mentoring?

Mentoring is an informal and flexible approach to leadership, supervision and professional development. It involves the mentor and protégé setting goals that are focused on the protégé's professional and personal development needs.Mentoring relationships can occur between a mentor and a protégé or a small group of protégés, or it may involve peers who act as mentors for each other.

Mentoring can occur through formal programs or informal arrangements. Formal mentoring involves the development of structured programs for the progression of the mentoring relationship. In contrast, informal mentoring programs are formed spontaneously and rely on natural rapport between the mentor and protégé.

Irrespective of the type of arrangement, mentoring involves:

  • The mentor encouraging the protégé/s to find solutions themselves, rather than acting as the expert and simply providing answers
  • The protégé/s drawing on the mentor's experience to meet goals.

Benefits of Mentoring for the AOD field and AOD workers

  • Building and sustaining skills and knowledge
  • Offering support for AOD related work practices
  • Facilitating work practice change
  • Acts as an incentive to attract skilled and qualified workers to the field and to retain those already in the field
  • Links different professions and institutions within the field
  • Offers support and accessible professional development for those working in rural and remote areas
  • Offers support during periods of change.

The Formal Mentoring Program

A formal mentoring program may be set up in 4 main steps:

  1. Assessment
  2. Preparation
  3. Implementation
  4. Evaluation

The lifecycle of the mentoring relationship will progress through 4 stages and will contain key charateristics.

The 4 phases of relationship progression are:

  1. Initiation: formation of the relationship, setting in period
  2. Maintenance: development of protégé skills and knowledge, and broadening of network of contacts in the field
  3. Separation: protégé begins to become independent of the mentor
  4. Redefinition: contact becomes characterised by mutual support (i.e., protégé becomes a colleague of the mentor).

Key characteristics of the program include:

  • Clear purpose and objective
  • Consistency with workplace culture and policies
  • Integration with other professional development activities
  • Careful selection and matching of mentors and protégés
  • Professional development and ongoing support
  • Flexibility and sensitivity
  • Ongoing evaluation. 

More Information

For further information about mentoring, please see Chapter 6 of the TIPS Kit

For a comprehensive guide on mentoring in the AOD field, refer to NCETA's Mentoring Monograph and Mentoring Resource Kit.