Mentoring creates a relationship between a more experienced individual, usually a mentor, and a less experienced individual – mentee, ensuring transfer of the skills from the more experience to lower experienced individual, promoting the development of mentee in a specified capacity. Mentoring systems have been used in many organizations to enhance career development, skill development, planning succession and to add value when one wants to implement equity plans - Mentoring system introduction. The systems have practically promoted people development in various organizations. The process of mentoring develops mentee value and character, giving the mentee relevant information and skills. (Fisher & Learner, 2005, pp. 722). With the Mentees with special needs, the mentor provides emotional support, and special ideas which are relevant to the specific need of the mentee.
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Mentoring systems have been used in many institutions to focus on the specific activities and operating system of the organization. Among these organizations include the business organizations, and learning/educations organizations. In learning organizations, schools have shown to have implemented the mentoring system to help the young and old students to achieve their goals, raise education level of individual by raising the achievements, and reduce barriers which many students encounter in their learning process. To reduce the barriers, the mentors collaborate with the mentee in identifying and address the barrier and finding a long lasting solution to the barrier.
The mentoring systems have other areas in which they focus. Among these areas is the child learning where it supports the whole child in learning. In this case, the system ensures the child has received a high quality and consistent mentoring process which enables the child to learn, and grow socially, and to achieve education goals. (Nash, 2003, pp. 39-47). The organizations’ leaders are supposed to create a favourable atmosphere for the mentoring to take place, and to provide training for the staff, or students (depending on organization) to support the establishment of the mentoring system. An effective mentoring system need to be clearly defined, and need to be explained to the mentor and mentee.
In this paper, a secondary school of physically disabled students has been used as an example to help in reflecting, analysing and evaluating mentoring system. The school is lead by the management committee, which consist of parents, teachers and members of the community.
Reasons for the introduction and development of mentoring system in the secondary special need school.
The school enrols physically disadvantaged students, who have completed their primary education. Holding disabled students the school had challenges in providing education to the students who felt inferior in the society. The student felt less privilege physically, and many people in the society, thought that the physical disability had very little to do in school, and in the society in which they live. This has been evidenced in many places, where individuals with such disabilities are denied the opportunities to equally participate in social activities on the basis of their disability and a time poor or lack of education
Excellence in Education
This gave the school a challenge, and the school wanted to prove these people wrong. The school management team came up with mentoring system which would ensure that all the students achieve the best, and equally participate in social activities, as well as excelling in their education.
The school management needed to promote the communication skills of their students at school, and at home. The school through that the management team saw that the student’s inferior feeling had limited their communication, and they needed to enhance good communication skills which would ensure that the student get the best from their teachers, as well as from fellow students, and to help them communicate their ideas, concern and problems with their mentors. (Pascaeli & Kochan, 2005).This could effectively promote good communication and subsequent good performance in their academic work.
When the students were being enrolled in the school majority of the students had come from homes where they were thee only ones who were disabled. This disabled children could only relate with relatives, and very few (if any) people in the society, because, the people in the society rarely associate themselves with disabled individuals. This limits the relationship between the student and the people in the society, and the secondary school for the physically disabled, needed to create a relationship between the society and the student. This became a reason for introducing the mentoring system, which would ensure that the students develop good relationship amongst themselves, teachers and the entire society.
Career and independence
Mentoring of students promotes self reliance. The school needed to produce graduates who could become self reliant despite their disability and this was to be achieved through mentoring the students. The system was to help the students develop value and career, which they would use in future to earn income and sustain them. The system was to equip students with skills and knowledge related to their career.
The school contains physically disabled students whose needs in the society are special. The society may seem to have no respect to them, or they might be feeling that the society does not appreciate them. The school introduced and developed the mentoring system to ensure that the mentors help the students to develop and maintain the mutual feeling of trust, admiration, gratitude and appreciation.
The mentoring systems plays role in development and achievement of broad spectrum of goals, and introduction and development of the system in the school was expected to have similar impact. The barriers which hinder the students from achieving their goals were to be identified and addressed by the mentor and the student, and this would facilitate the achievement of the goals.
Any individual in the society can lead, but a good leader needs to have leadership skills. By mentoring young students, leadership skills can be easily transferred from a mentor to the mentee. In such cases, a mentor who is a leader acts as a role model in motivating the mentee. (Lim, 2005).
Benefits of mentoring system
Mentoring system has positive impact to various individuals, and organizations. Mentor develops effective professionalisms through continued practice, of mentoring, and the mentees’ professionalism is also enhanced. In cases where the mentoring is carried out in a business or organisation, organization develops greatly in respond to developed professionalism, because more skills and experiences is achieved, leading to increase in business output.
The business development as an impact on mentoring application, the individuals in the society which the business serves also develops. The individual living standards are improved.
When a mentoring system is applied in an organization, a good and effective network is achieved, and this helps in effective organisation operations and activities.
The individuals involved in the activities maintain good relationship and effective communication. This becomes a benefit to individuals in the organization, as well as to the business itself. When the mentoring system is applied in learning institution such as school, the school general performance is improved as a result of good individual student performance. Student excels in the society. (A S E E, pp. 1-4). They subsequent become role model of the other students, meaning that the cycle of excellence is repeated.
Students develop communication skills. The skills re used within the school where they effectively communicate with teachers and other individuals in the school, promoting communication of ideas, and problem to their mentors and teachers who provide solutions to the problems. Without the system students holds their problems which disturbs their psychology.
Although a larger number of disabled individual exists in the society, very few are seen participating the public activities, and in leadership. This minimizes the disabled students’ vision, and they think that they have very little position in the society for them. Through introduction and development of the mentoring system, the mentors who can be also disabled or not become the role model of the students, enabling the student to learn that they can also prosper. The mentors continually provide assistance to the student which helps them to recognize their importance in the society. Lack of these mentors the student would not get the need for hard work, and their role in the society.
The mentoring system plays a role in enhancing professionalism to both the mentor and mentee. School mentors are usually teachers who are specially trained to carry out mentoring process to the student. A school can introduce and develop mentoring system with the aim of promoting the mentors professionalism, in their future career. (Wallace & Gravells 2005)
Many students and especially the disabled students face troubles when making friends. Without the friends, the young students have no one to share problem with, or to relieve them from stress, and some end up being influenced by the peer into bad relationships. With the help of a mentor young students can be given counselling on such issue and the mentor becomes the student’s closest friend who spares his/her time to help the student solve his/her problems and let out frustrations mentoring system helps the students to be independent in their future life. They effectively live good life with ability to sort out issues whenever they arise, and ability to solve problems. They appreciate others in the society and relate well with others. Some of the mentee become other people’s mentor, and greatly help thee society. The mentoring system motivates the student to progress in higher education, where more is learnt increasing the student education level, career and profession development as well as securing better job opportunities in the diverse market.
Teams and teamwork
Student get a chance to participate in extra-curriculum activities, where they learn to relate with others, create teamwork, and develop physically, emotionally and mentally. This leads to effective student development. The peer support is strengthened, where young students gets guidance, on the moral ethics helping them to live well in the society without being influence by their peer into immoral behaviour. Students take responsibility in assisting and caring for other individuals in the society.
Mentee gains the ability to implement and practice the learned skills, as this is the back bone of the mentoring process. A successful mentoring ensures that the mentee puts the learnt ideas and plans into practices. The mentee gets inspiration through the process from the mentor. The inspiration helps the mentee to talk, demonstrate, and take action on things which promotes the mentees’ initiative, and through such initiative the mentee can engage in innovative practices making him/her to be an effective innovator.
Some of the problems associated with mentoring system
Various organizations undergo changes in different aspects of their operation. A business, organization or institution may have several changes requiring the mentoring system to adjust to. For example, if a school handling physically fit student changes and starts admitting even the physically disabled student, a need to change mentors, or give the existing mentor an extra special training to be able to mentor the students with the special need is necessary. This training will require extra time and expenses from the mentor, making it very expensive. This means that the changes in the various aspects have effect to the mentoring. The problem arises, when there mentor fails to meet the required cost, limiting the provision of the skills, and lowering the effectiveness of the mentoring system.
Mentoring of intercultural and relationships faces stereotyping in the mentor and mentee part. People of different colour, culture, or sex feel that they are very different to relate or feel that their culture is quite different to allow the development of the relationship. This becomes a problem to the mentoring process, because its effectiveness is reduced. The problem extends to undermining the mentee confidence.
In role-modelling function of cross-gender relationships is degraded, because of the different, professional styles which exist between men and women. A mentor or role-model who is a man become of little use to women and vice versa, because the profession which a male student or any other man may admire and need is quite different to the one admired by a female student. (Cooke, 2005, pp.128.). This limits the mentoring effectiveness in various individuals, organizations, and /or institutions.
Consultants over reliance
Some organizations which over rely on consultants to an extent of leaving them to implement the mentoring programmes face problems in mentoring. Effective implementation of mentoring programs needs to be carried out by the organization’s or institutions members themselves. The consultants fail to customize these programs according to the clients need, and neglect the organizations culture. Such organizations which rely on consultants face problems because the mentoring programs which they produce are standardized and the consultants never offer follow up services which can help the organization in implementing the mentoring system. This means the effectiveness of such programs is limited.
Most of organizations and institutions where mentoring systems are used, they only consider training of mentors. They expect the system to be effective with the training, but later they get into problems as the system retards. The retarding of the mentoring process in this case is basically because all people responsible for mentoring including resource manager, co-ordinators and mentee among others equally needs the training for effective process. (White, 1981, pp.4). In many cases, training of all these parties is neglected because of the cost required to train them.
There are problems related to the mentor’s selection. Many organizations and institutions think that any experienced member of staff can effectively become a good mentor. This is not the case. For any individual to be an effective mentor needs training in various aspects, without considering his field of experience. Any institution which makes such assumption gets into trouble in providing effective mentoring.
Poor management vision and commitment in an organization creates problems in mentoring. Institutions leaders claim that they work very hard to benefit their clients and in this case the mentee, but they really involve very little resources in the system making it ineffective. On the other hand a leader can be committed, but fails to give the objectives of the mentoring system to the mentor, which reduces the mentor’s Commitment to the system.
Suggested recommendation for future improvement of the mentoring or coaching system
It is important to establish a monitoring team to ensure a continuous monitoring of a mentoring system. Many institutions only monitor the mentoring system after a change has been made in system .Continuous monitoring is necessary through out the application process, to enhance continuous effectiveness of the implemented system.
Each organization or institution has principles in which the mentoring system is based on. It is important to clearly identify the reason of the mentoring system, or rather what it is intended to cover in institution. A solid reason of a system ensures that the programme is applied the right way, enhancing its effectiveness. The managerial team needs to support the mentoring system. (Willbur, 1989).
Correct mentor identification
Care should be taken when identifying mentors. Identifying and selecting of mentor should be based on the experience one has in the specific area of mentoring, rather than field of work. This is because the field in which an individual works differs greatly with the area of mentoring, and this lowers the quality of skills transferred to the mentee. If managers or institution leaders can take heed, and participate in mentoring, a good evaluation of their success can be carried out. In this case the leader plays a role model to the mentee, and ensures a continuous monitoring of the system at the same time.
The chosen mentors should be ready to help people grow, ready to listen to mentees, and committed to objectivity and trustworthiness. Before selecting mentors, they should be requested to volunteer their services, before they are employed, because this helps in assessing their ability to mentor in the various fields. This ensures that mentors who are employed are ones with the ability to mentor effectively. (Cullingford, 2006, pp.42-44).
Training of appropriate role players
Since the whole mentoring process involves various individuals, they all need appropriate training for effective mentoring process. Individuals involved in mentoring process include: the mentor, mentee, leaders of the organization, resource managers, and institution directors among others.
Openness to diversity.
Successful mentoring system is based on openness and diversity. Mentors should have knowledge of their mentee’s background, to ensure good relationship with the mentee, because individual’s background differs from one individual to another. This requires the mentor to have ability to determine the impact of his /her background to that of the mentee. Mentors need to be sensitive on mentee’s background. For example, when mentoring on gender and culture relationship, the mentor should ensure that he/she does not suppress the mentee gender or culture, because this limits mentee‘s participation in the mentoring process.
Matching of mentee and mentor.
It is important to use mentors who specified on mentee’s area of interest. Potential personality should be considered to avoid personality clashes. For example, individuals who are organized in their various life aspects will require similarly organized mentors. Failure to this, they get frustrated and refuse to actively participate in the mentoring process. This means that for an effective mentoring process the mentor and mentee need to match.
Identifying and implementing a mentoring system in an institution is not enough for an effective system. Planning for the system is equally important for a successful mentoring programme. Failure to plan for the system reduces its effectiveness. A mentoring system plan should include the responsibilities of each individual, content of the mentoring process, and the scope of the process, among other things. This ensures the system is understood by the various participating individuals, and subsequent success of the mentoring process. (Class compass, 2007).
A clearly defined and explained mentoring system contributes a lot in individual development as well as in the organizational development. The system has many benefits to the mentor, mentee, organization, and the society at large. Every party involved in the system has roles to play for effectiveness of the system. This means that they are equally important for effective mentoring process. Many people take mentors as the only important people in the process, neglecting roles of the mentee and the organization in which they are based. Many forget that mentoring is not concerned with entitlement, but rather empowerment and development of skills (Fitzgerald, 1999).
Although various barriers limit mentoring, we need to find ways of destroying them and providing a long-life access to mentoring system. Many individuals and organizations despair after getting challenges in the effort to introduce and develop the mentoring system, forgetting the great need for the role of the system. We should look forward and gather the strength against the barrier in order to enjoy the many and great benefits of mentoring.
We need to make the mentoring process a natural one and permanently incorporate the system in the business and learning activities, because it is very important awe cannot afford to loose because of failure to implement the process. Necessary resources should be spared and dedicated to the implementation of the system because it is only though mentoring people can quickly acquire skills and experience to achieve such goals, empowerment, and social psychology, economical and personal development.
Many important factors necessary for the effective mentoring system have been neglected in many institutions. The management team overlooks these factors without really knowing their strength in the mentoring system. Many leaders will think by composing and implementing the mentoring system, and getting a mentor from the staff, the game is over! This is not the case. A lot of effort is needed far beyond the implementation. Indeed, continuous mentoring, assessing and developing a good plan for the system is needed to deliver best results to all stakeholders.
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