Starting Point for Mentoring
Christine Cuerrier
Les Éditions de la Fondation de l’entrepreneurship, 2003
ISBN: 2-89521-055-1

Christine Cuerriers’ Staring Point is the first guide in 6-part series on mentoring. This introductory guide to mentoring offers a basic tool for learning about the concept of mentoring and more critically it provides the means to distinguish mentoring from other forms of learning, such as coaching and tutoring.

It provides definitions and explains the features of the mentoring relationship. From a more pragmatic application, Staring Point describes and defines mentoring applications in the world of work and career development. Mentoring is defined as “a form of voluntary aid favouring development and learning based on an interpersonal relationship of support, exchange and learning, in which an experienced person invests his/her acquired wisdom and expertise to promote the development of another person, who has skills to acquire and professional goals to attain” (23).

Ms. Cuerrier further defines the meaning of mentoring by contrasting definitions of coaching, consulting, tutoring and monitoring. Mentoring is considered the “development of a privileged, long term relationship, entered into freely by mentor and mentee, which concerns personal and professional developments and which focuses on the individual as a whole” (15)

In chapter 2, Ms. Cuerrier proceeds with a more in-depth look at the quality of the mentor relationship, including its specific characteristics and applications. The roles of the players involved are divided into 6 different functions: 1) Relationship Emphasis, 2) Information Emphasis, 3) Facilitation Focus, 4) Confrontation Focus, 5) Mentor Model and 6) Mentee Vision. The anchoring point for the dynamic mentor/mentee relationship is that the mentor should fulfill the roles of counsellor, coach, teacher, guide and facilitator.

The final chapter of the guide is that of mentoring in an employment and career context. In chapter 3, mentoring is described as an important tool in keeping with modern career development. The new labour market is one where frequent changes and horizontal movement are common; moreover, ongoing upgrading of knowledge and technical skills implies longer careers and more frequent career changes. The implication for the new career development paradigm and mentoring is that professional development will continue to be a life long process.

Written by Robert Campiti, a student with the Career & Work Counsellor Program at George Brown College. Robert completed a practicum with Contact Point during the Summer of 2004. His interests include research in career development and resources, as well as emerging trends in Canada’s diverse workforce.