In her IABC presentation Erin Dyck described four myths regarding mentorship:
- Mentorship is top-down. One’s placement in an organizational hierarchy does not, in fact, determine the kind of wisdom and experience one can give another colleague.
- Mentors should be from your own chosen profession. Many skills and insights are portable from one sector to another, especially those involving communication like conflict resolution and situation analysis.
- Mentorship should follow a clearly defined process with clear goals. It is outmoded today even to have a career goal that is wholly defined; technology and political economies are transforming both our options and our wishes. Mentorship should be improvisatory.
- Mentors and mentees should be close geographically. That this need not be true is a straightforward point but one worthwhile to mention nonetheless, especially when one hears (as one does too often) that the “best” communication is “face to face.” There is no “best” medium.
At the IABC presentation I got up and suggested that there be a fifth myth added to the list: The relationship between a mentor and a mentee needs to be a friendly one. I will post more on this myth soon.