Mentoring relationships are essential for personal and professional growth. The term “mentor” originates from the character Mentor in Homer's Odyssey, who was asked by Odysseus, king of Ithaca, to advise and teach his son, Telemachus. Over time, the term mentor came to refer to someone who is a guide and educator. For a mentoring relationship to be successful, both parties must have complex skills that can be taught, practiced and mastered.
This will generate measurable benefits for both the learner and mentor. Mentoring relationships are now considered collaborative processes in which learners and mentors participate in reciprocal and dynamic activities such as planning, acting, reflection, questioning and problem solving. The type of support that mentors need and provide will vary depending on the different stages of mentoring. For example, an empirical study of working professionals revealed that those who had just started a mentoring relationship reported fewer challenges with respect to that relationship than those who were in the mature or final stages of their relationships.
This suggests that addressing the needs of mentoring and the possible relational challenges that may arise in the stages of mentoring is fundamental to overall quality and satisfaction with mentoring. In order to understand and improve tutoring, there is a wide range of theories and supporting research that can be informative. The six theories presented here are not a complete list of the frameworks used by researchers to develop an understanding of mentoring. Rather, they provide language, constructs, and theoretical bases that can guide the creation of an effective and inclusive mentoring culture.
The chronosystem refers to changes over time. For example, beliefs about women attending college have changed dramatically since the 1960s. From an ecological perspective, mentoring can be considered as a property of systems rather than as an interaction between a mentor and an apprentice. This suggests that research on mentoring should also focus on development networks, institutional context and social macrosystems.
Social exchange theory emphasizes that interdependent transactions between participants in a relationship have the potential to generate high-quality relationships when the benefits of the exchange are greater than the perceived costs. Applying this theory to mentoring places the focus on considering how mentors and mentors in mentoring relationships evaluate the value, relative benefit, and cost of their relationships. Having structures and policies that minimize or mitigate costs and increase the potential for positive interactions can increase the chance of obtaining beneficial outcomes for mentors. An individual may internalize some norms although external rewards can support other norms such as selfless behavior. Effective rules and sanctions can facilitate certain actions and restrict others.
For example, good mentors often set expectations about the importance of informal exchanges or supportive laboratory environments. Social capital is defined by its function, with the result that social capital theory prompts an understanding of how social networks can influence individual behavior. Establishing a successful mentoring relationship requires open and honest communication, trust, respect, complex skills that can be taught, practiced and mastered by both parties involved in the relationship. It is important to address the needs of mentoring at each stage of development in order to ensure quality and satisfaction with mentoring. In order to understand and improve tutoring, there are several theories which provide language, constructs, and theoretical bases that can guide the creation of an effective and inclusive mentoring culture. These include chronosystems theory which looks at changes over time; social exchange theory which emphasizes interdependent transactions between participants; internalization theory which looks at how norms are internalized; external rewards theory which looks at how external rewards can support norms; effective rules theory which looks at how rules can facilitate certain actions; and social capital theory which looks at how social networks can influence individual behavior.