What is Mentoring?

Defining mentoring

The relationship between mentor and mentee is all-important. There is a high degree of trust and mutual respect. The mentor helps the mentee to become what he or she aspires to be and to realize a true potential. Many mentors mention how much they learn and grow, through becoming a mentor and mentoring.

Key principles of the MSF Mentoring Programmes

In the different MSF OCs, we agree on three key principles about mentoring.

Voluntary: the element of choice is all-important for mentoring to be successful and for talent development to really happen. The openness to questioning oneself and being challenged that is necessary for genuine learning can only happen with commitment from mentees.

Confidentiality: for the trust to be complete between mentor and mentee, at a time when the mentee is taking on a challenge, such as starting in a new position. In the relationship, the mentee must feel that what matters first and foremost is their welfare and development.

No interference with operations: mentors guide mentees in their analysis of the situations they face in their work and they are clear that the responsibility for decisions rests with mentees and their line-managers.

Why mentoring at MSF?

We believe in the now widely-held idea that most of what people learn, they learn on the job. Mentoring provides a more effective learning environment in that it blends many things at once: expressing thoughts and feelings about the actual situation you are in, sharing knowledge (of yourself, of the field, of MSF structures and systems), testing and checking actions and results, and feedback.

Mentoring is a learning relationship that offers a great space for venting. Mentees can afford the benefit of brainstorming ideas first in their mentoring conversations before they run them past their manager or their team. They can discuss difficult interpersonal relationships in the workplace, and walk away with positive ways of handling them.

Mentoring is a very congruent way to retain our know-how, in line with our international culture. It serves particularly well in very rapidly changing situations that demand from our leaders to be creative, with well-developed problem-solving skills and a capacity to make effective decisions.

Could mentoring be for you?

You feel in need of developing competencies to match the job. You are open to on-the-job learning. You consider constructive feedback as an opportunity to develop yourself. You are eager to engage in a learning relationship with someone senior in your role, who is dedicated to sharing their expertise and transferring their knowledge and skills. You are committed to taking the lead in this relationship.

How to get a mentor?

You apply for mentoring through your OC’s mentoring programme manager/referent or your DA/CM/Pool Manager. This should happen  before you start your assignment.