Mentoring Myths and Realities: Part Two, the Answer Key

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Published 6/6/2015

Here are the answers to “Mentoring Myths and Realities: Part One - Take the Test.” While the “right” answers may be debatable, the real benefit is when the two parties sit down to discuss their answers as a way to establish clear expectations and boundaries.

1) It is best if mentors are selected by the protégé. T F
False. Those seeking out mentors often choose people they like, as opposed to someone that will help them develop in targeted areas. Often, being paired up according to needs and talents of mentors and protégés works better.

2) Mentors and protégés usually work together for many years. T F
False. Research has shown that the most effective length of a mentoring relationship is between six months and two years.

3) Mentors and protégé pairings work out best when they have similar interests and styles.

False. It’s nice if they do, but the purpose of the relationship is to develop and learn, so similar interests and styles are not necessary, and often, both learn more when styles and interests are not similar.

4) Mentoring works best when it is an informal process. T F
False. While the process should not be too rigid, it works better when there are some guidelines. This helps set expectations and guidelines for both parties.

5) It is better if the protégé’s boss is not his/her mentor. T F
True, for two reasons.

First, it is often better to have an outside perspective that is not influenced by day-to-day demands and deadlines, in order to help mentor and coach. Secondly, protégés need to feel comfortable in discussing their developmental opportunities, something that many employees would prefer not to do with their direct manager.

6) It is better if the mentor is outside of the protégé’s direct organization. T F
True. This can help give the mentor some distance and objectivity to situations, and will reduce or eliminate the chance of the sessions centering on specific individuals within the organization or departmental issues.

7) Same-gender pairings usually work out best for a mentoring relationship. T F
False. Often, the diverse perspectives of an opposite gender pairing are better.

8) Mentoring can help acclimate the protégé to a new environment. T F
True. This type of targeted mentoring is very useful for helping protégés get on board faster, in terms of processes, contacts, business objectives, and culture.

9) A mentor can sponsor and coach activities that will foster and promote growth. T F
Absolutely; in fact, that is one of the primary outcomes of the relationship.

10) Mentoring usually works best without any processes to get in the way. T F
Not really. There is a balance between informal interactions and a specific, targeted outcome. Therefore, implementing some structure has been found to be most effective.

11) Mentoring is only for fast-trackers. T F
False. Mentoring can be for everyone. The most important element is to match up needs of the protégés with the skills and abilities of the mentors. However, organizations can’t always provide mentors for all employees, so high potentials are often selected.

12) Mentoring is one way of developing protégé’s skills. T F
True. It should be used in conjunction with many different approaches to development, including job shadowing, developmental projects and assignments, formal training, and reading.

13) Mentoring works best when the mentor and protégé are in different fields. T F
This may be true or false, depending on the desired outcome. If the skills needed are function specific (i.e. marketing skills), then it will be beneficial to have the mentor be in the same field provided they are not in the same organization.

If, on the other hand, the desired outcome is something more general like specific leadership qualities, then it may be more useful to have the pairs be from different fields in order to provide a broader perspective.

14) One of the major roles of a mentor is a counselor. T F
False. The mentor is not to be a counselor. There may be occasions to discuss approaches to certain situations, but the outcome of the relationship should be developmental.

15) Mentoring is a significant investment of time for the mentor.

Not necessarily. Often, mentors are extremely busy people, and are asked by many others to act as mentors to them. Therefore, their role should be to provide guidance and direction to the protégé, and the amount of time invested by both parties should be agreed upon up front.

16) To be successful, mentoring must be done face-to-face. T F
Not true. Though initial sessions are most beneficial done face-to-face, subsequent sessions can be done just as effectively virtually with good results.

17) Anyone can be a successful mentor.

Somewhat true. A mentor must possess certain skills, experiences and abilities that can help a protégé, must have good coaching skills, and view the time spent with their protégé as a valued investment.

18) Mentors generally report receiving significant benefits of working with a protégé. T F
True. Benefits include learning about different parts of the organization and satisfaction in helping others. Most mentors also experience personal growth by learning something unexpected from the protégé.

19) Protégés generally earn more money than their peers in similar positions. T F
True. This may be because people who seek out mentors are more focused on their careers, but research has shown that people that do engage in mentoring relationships do earn more than their peers.

20) Protégés are generally more satisfied with their careers than their non-mentored peers. T F
True. This could be for a variety of reasons - sense of control, better feedback, improved skills, etc.

21) The mentor/protégé relationship should be open so that the protégé can talk about any subject. T F
Somewhat true. Mentoring relationships should be focused and ground rules should be established up front. These should include what should and should not be discussed in the sessions so that both parties are clear.

22) Everything in the mentor/protégé relationship should be focused on the issue of the development of the protégé. T F
True. The scope of the mentoring relationship should be decided upon up front. Once these objectives are met, the relationship should end.

23) Mentoring should be listed on the protégé’s individual development plan. T F
True, and the protégé’s manager should be aware of the mentoring relationship and progress.

24) The protégé’s boss is not really involved in the mentoring process. T F

While not involved in the actual sessions, the mentor should periodically talk with the supervisor about development opportunities, etc. Also, the supervisor should ask the employee how the mentoring is going.