Counselling and Mentoring

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Methods to improve personal and professional skills
Explain the difference between counseling and mentoring. Give examples of each in your answer

Counseling is one of the methods used to offer advice and assist with the development of members of staff in an organization. It is not only limited to personal matters affecting members of staff but can also be used to assist with the professional development of individuals and can help to steer one in the right direction in terms of business development. Business development counseling may involve providing advice on accessing finance, marketing, human resources, operations management and feasibility studies.

Counseling is a very important aspect of management specifically in conducting performance appraisals, handling grievances and taking disciplinary action against employees.

In essence, counseling is the processes by which individuals are assisted with identifying their problems, and finding solutions to same.

There are two methods of counseling that is widely accepted: directive counseling involves the counselor issuing directives to the counselee about the possible consequences of a particular action and taking the initiative to show or lead the counselee in the correct path. Indirect counseling encourages more interaction on the part of the counselee and assumes that the most effective way of arriving at solutions to particular problems/issues is if the counselee is involved in the discussion and ultimate solution to the problem. These solutions are therefore not implemented unless the counselee is in total agreement and accepts the possible outcomes.

The word ‘mentoring’ originates from Greek mythology, where it is said that Odysseus entrusted his home and the education of his son to his friend Mentor. “Tell him all you know,” said Odysseus, hence the common understanding of mentoring as passing on experience and knowledge. Widely used in professions, mentoring provides a mechanism by which experienced managers can pass on their wisdom – helping to shape their protégé’s values and beliefs in a positive way. A mentor is an individual, usually older, always more experienced, who helps and guides another individual’s development. This guidance is not done for personal gain.

There are several aspects to mentoring and considering the role of a mentor. Business mentoring involves achieving a balance between organization goals and objectives and the personal development of individual employees hence a relationship between the organization and the employee must be maintained and encouraged as a means for mutual attainment of goals.

Executive mentoring is similar to business mentoring but is specifically targeted to executives and CEOs in organizations.

Performance mentoring as the name suggests assist with the improvement of employees’ performance in the workplace and is therefore geared towards an increase in productivity.

Skills’ mentoring is targeted specifically to the individual, their knowledge, experience, maturity and ambitions, and is generally focused on achieving a number of objectives for both the individual and the organization.

Personal mentoring is assisting the individual to maintain the motivation and commitment needed to achieve their goals. A recent example of mentorship in action in Jamaica was highlighted in the Jamaica Gleaner dated August 13, 2008. Here is an excerpt taken from the said newspaper “ Minister of Education Andrew Holness is endorsing an apprenticeship and mentorship programme, forged by telecommunications company Digicel in partnership with four of Jamaica's leading universities. The signing of the memorandum of understanding by Digicel, the University of the West Indies, Northern Caribbean University, the University of Technology and the University College of the Caribbean (UCC) took place yesterday at the UCC's New Kingston headquarters. Graduates can now expect to benefit from the programme...
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