The value of a mentoring relationship

Mentoring is about giving assistance and or advice to others. This article explores why, or why not, mentors should be paid for their services.

The Webster’s dictionary defines mentoring as the act of someone teaching or giving help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person.  One key word that stands out in that definition is giving.  Someone who mentors has to be willing to be giving of themselves and to share their knowledge with another according to Michigan State University Extension.  Mentors are not charged with just passing on their skills or expertise but also giving of their time.  One should always consider the various commitments associated with a mentoring relationship.  A mentoring commitment is extensive and may involve multiple individuals including the mentor, mentee, parents and a sponsoring organization or company. 

The thought of giving back in the form of mentoring should come from a place of volunteerism and not be attached to a monetary fee for service.  Many look at mentoring as a way to give back to another or to assist in building a community.  Although most will agree that mentoring is a gift that is given from the heart, others believe that a mentor should be financially compensated for the sharing of their advice and knowledge.  Mentors who are paid may not have the same commitment to their mentee.  If a genuine commitment to help another is not the foundation of the mentoring relationship, then it may be viewed as a business deal or transaction.  If mentors are paid, they could look at the mentoring relationship as a job and not a form of giving back to others, their community or profession.  If paid mentors considered mentoring tasks as a job with some chance of mentors doing the minimal amount of tasks expected and nothing more as if they are “punching a clock” or just “collecting a check.”  Paying mentors can send the wrong message and also potentially attract the wrong type of individual.    

Since mentoring relationships are so valuable and have the ability to be life changing, it is important that mentors have the right motives and intensions when entering into a giving commitment.  

For more information, and discussion on whether or not mentors should be paid, visit http://chronicle.umbmentoring.org/forum-should-mentors-be-compensated-for-their-time/. MSU Extension has additional information on mentoring and volunteering as well.