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Created By N. Zimmermann

Mentoring is a relationship between people with different levels of experience. Its main goal is to enable learning and growth, often understood as non-formal practical learning. The more experienced mentor guides the mentee for a certain duration of time. In general mentoring is a tool for personal and professional development. The uniqueness of the mentoring comes along with its grand source of intrinsic motivation, support and understanding. It depends from a more personalized relation between the mentor and the mentee that is not usual for other forms of learning.

Today there are numerous programmes that create more focused structures for mentor-mentee relationships, which can take place in companies, in institutions, universities, schools, or social work. They formalize the traditional informal mentoring relation in programs and use in this way mentoring as an approach of competency-based learning.

Purposes of Mentoring Programs

Building Personal Relationships

Mentoring creates positive personal experiences and trust. It forges connections between mentors and mentees.

Learning Life Skills

The effect is most evident in the mentee, who gains knowledge and experience.


Transfer of knowledge from the mentor to the mentee with an emphasis on results.

Assisting in Transition

Support of mentees in transforming personal interests and skills into forming new perspectives.

Sharing Power

Qualifying people for particular psoitions. Closer connections between various hierarchical levels.

Close to Practice

By its nature mentoring is accompanying the everyday activities of mentees, helping mentees in learning and growing. Therefore, mentoring as a mixture of knowledge transfer and exchange of experiences, motivation and encouragement, an counceling and coaching.

In a successful mentorship mentee and mentor will typically have profits like

  • Support in work and career
  • A bigger personal network
  • Gain of expertise and knowledge
  • Closer relation to an institution, party or company, that provides a mentoring program
  • Trustful and authentic feedback regarding their action and social competencies as leaders
  • Shared values and idealism

A Personal Relation

The personal connection and relationship between the mentor and mentee is one of the essentials for sucess and sustainability of the moentoring process. This is rather unusual for common forms of learning and teaching. Even if we know today how important personal relationsships and role models are in the development of people's personalities and their learning processes, especially in informal practical education.

Articles, Checklists and Methods

Checklist: Planning a Mentorship

Mentorship is an inherently open-ended process. It lasts as long as both mentor and mentee want it to. Mentorship often takes place as part of a mentorship program or focuses on projects of specific duration such as a mentee's first year at a university. The mentor’s and the mentee’s needs help develop a structure to define roles.

Phases of Mentoring

The model describes a typical process of mentoring. Most mentorships are embedded in a program’s framework and these programs last from a few months up to a year, in some cases even longer.

Responsibilities in Mentoring

Mentors’ and mentees’ awareness of their own responsibilities can change throughout the course of a mentorship. This can lead to lack of clarity or, at times, disappointments. Therefore, we advise that responsibilities be addressed in every phase of a mentorship, not just the first part.

Documentation of a Mentorship

Documentation can be done in different ways - in form of a protocoll, an assessment or by using journals.

Checklist: Preparing a Mentoring Meeting

As a mentor you decide about the flow and the nature of a meeting with a mentee. This checklists could help to decide about your way of hosting this meeting.

Checklist: Mentoring Protocol

Standard template for a goal oriented documentation of a meeting

Checklist: Assessment of a Meeting

An assessment sheet is for reflecting and evaluating the process of a meeting. This template is a tool for mentors, but mentees can also complete assessment sheets.

New options through other perspectives

People are constantly confronted with decisions. It is often helpful to explore different perspectives in order to make a decision. If we put ourselves in the position of somebody else, we can find new ways of looking at the issue.

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Standard Building Blocks:

Educational Fields:

Download: Banner


Mentoringhandbook.png Nils-Eyk Zimmermann

Mentoring Handbook

Providing Systemic Support for Mentees and Their Projects

MitOst editions, Berlin 2012, Online


Mentoring represents an informal relationship between two people. An (often older) mentor supports a (less experienced) mentee by sharing his or her own personal experience and expertise, motivating and encouraging, advising and coaching.