Knowing 3 Major Point Of Differences Between A Mentor And Manager

Mentoring vs Coaching
Published on
August 31, 2018

Mentoring programs have become an essential part of the retention strategy for most large organizations. Formal mentoring programs consistently result in higher employee engagement and higher growth potential, especially in millennial employees. When it comes to mentoring at work, most employees tend to look up to their managers as mentors. Managing and mentoring are two methods of leading an individual to achieve a specific set of goals, and both are essential for an employee's success within an organization.  

On the other hand, mentoring goes beyond the confines of a company and plays an integral part in an employee's professional development both within the company and on a larger scale. Often, employees or mentees may find themselves faced with the challenge of identifying mentors amongst colleagues and managers. Both these roles are often viewed with overlapping opportunities to guide and help an individual achieve success. However, the end goal and methods of approach in mentorship and management are different.  

Below are a few points that can help a mentee identify and differentiate mentors from managers.

  1.     Mentors Guide, Managers Set Targets

The focus is generally on achieving organizational and departmental goals. Managers must ensure that their advice and decisions are always aligned with the corporate vision. The plan of a mentor-mentee relationship is inclined towards sharing knowledge and experience. The manager might delay or restrict a learning opportunity for an employee if it conflicts with the organization's expectations of the employee. A mentor never restricts exploring new avenues for their mentees as long as it helps with their career growth and aspirations.

  1.      Mentoring is Personal; Management is Work

The manager and employee relationship are a formal agreement guided and bound by company policies. The scope of a manager's role is limited by the framework set by the organization to achieve business targets. Mentoring is more of an informal agreement between a mentor and mentee in most cases. The extent of this goes beyond organizational structure and should not be limited by the mentee's existing position in the organization. A manager trying to fit themselves into the role of a mentor may face a conflict of responsibilities for themselves and the employee.  

A manager should empathize if an employee's performance is affected by issues on the personal front, but their focus remains on best using the team's potential to achieve targets. A mentor is not faced with the conflict of responsibilities towards their mentees. Therefore, they can empathize and understand personal issues that are restricting a mentee from achieving their goals and possibly provide additional guidance.

  1.      Communication is the key

A manager is usually an authoritative figure responsible for reviewing an employee's contributions and giving feedback that affects not only the employee's performance but also, in turn, will be assessed during their review process. A mentor is a guiding figure, and the feedback from meetings does not directly reflect in the employee's reviews and promotions within the organization. Mentor feedback and reviews are personal communication targeted to help a mentee remain focused on their long-term goals. This formal arrangement leads to employees potentially wanting to hide their weaknesses from the manager.  

They do not want to be seen as vulnerable or receive critical and negative feedback. Open and candid communication is a crucial element of a mentor-mentee relationship. In fact, the entire purpose of the association is to openly talk about your shortcomings and learn how to overcome them with the help of an experienced mentor. The role of a mentor and a manager are extremely significant in the success of any employee as an individual in a company. Often, manager and mentor roles overlap, and employees may find themselves being mentored by managers.  

A manager as a mentor is the best fit for a mentee when the focus of the mentee is to attain success in their current position. Mentorship is essentially also a part of a manager's job. An employee's focus must be on growth, whether led by the manager or guided by the mentor. Good leadership is defined by the ability of a person to drive individuals and teams towards success despite the differences one may face. While mentors can help achieve broad professional goals, managers can help an employee focus on the immediate task that are elemental contributors to the bigger picture.

If this post was helpful, please consider sharing it with your network - you never know who needs to hear it. Also, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved, and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation.

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