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Mentoring reigns supreme at KBC

The term “mentoring” has its origins in Greek mythology. Odysseus asked his friend, Mentor, to look after his son during his absence, and to prepare him for his future role as king [1].

Mentoring describes the actions of an experienced person, the mentor, passing on their expertise and experience to an inexperienced person, the mentee. In a business context it is frequently managers who help young professionals to tackle the challenges facing them [2].

At the same time, mentoring should always be personal, individual, and geared towards success.

  • Personal in the sense that the mentor and the mentee always have direct exchanges.
  • Individual, in that the mentee takes centre stage with their questions and concerns.
  • Geared towards success, in that the mentoring contributes to the mentee’s personal development and leads to commercial success[3].

Distinction between mentoring and coaching

In comparison to coaching, in which the coach is qualified as a process advisor and has a wide range of methods at their disposal, the mentor mainly counsels on the basis of their own experiences. In mentoring, too, generally only issues relating to the professional development of the mentee within the organisation are addressed. While in coaching the client’s issues, up to and including in the private sphere, are taken into consideration [4].

Mentoring at KBC

It is true that at KBC no-one needs to be prepared for a role as a future king; at the same time, the development of staff reigns supreme and mentoring is an essential element of that.

Every KBC employee is assigned a mentor from the beginning. This mentor has the task of continually supporting their mentee throughout the mentee’s professional career. The mentor is always an experienced colleague who will pass on their knowledge and experience, and provide advice and support. In doing so, the mentee’s professional development is paramount. Especially during the induction phase, questions of a general nature often arise, and the mentor will always be available as a sounding board for these questions.

The mentor introduces their mentee to the processes and procedures of the company. They serve as a mouthpiece to the management of the company, and act as a sparring partner for day-to-day topics. The mentor helps the mentee to expand their capabilities, accelerates the growth of their network within the company, and facilitates participation in internal company activities. Twice a year, larger rounds of feedback take place at which the mentee’s course of development is discussed in detail. These meetings allow measures to be identified which will contribute to the mentee’s development.

At KBC, employees already grow into the role of mentor at an early stage. Even Consultants take on mentoring tasks for interns and student trainees, and in doing so get to know the challenges of managing, guiding, and supervising young colleagues. Through mentoring, the mentee has the opportunity to profit from the experience of their mentor. Furthermore, they can turn to their mentor with personal questions or work-related difficulties and issues, and discuss the topics directly. In addition, this relationship of trust enhances cooperation between the mentor and mentee.

As a rule, the discussions take place outside of project work and at regular intervals, usually every week or two.

If the mentee wants new impetus and/or to profit from different experiences, they also have the possibility to change mentors.

Benefits for the mentor

Finally, it is worth mentioning that mentors benefit from mentoring as well. For one thing, young colleagues always bring new ideas with them – whether from the studies they have just completed a short time ago, or from practical experiences they have already had in other companies. Secondly, the exchanges help the mentor change their perspective and see the processes and procedures in the company reflected from another side.

The mentor takes on a responsible role, demands are made of them, and their support serves the mentee in their technical and personal development. At the same time, the mentor broadens their own competencies and, what’s more, bolster their own feeling of self-esteem.  

Attentive mentoring ultimately leads to uniform collaborative efforts and increased job satisfaction for all employees in the company.


[1]: Der Begriff Mentoring; Forum Mentoring;; 2020

[2]: Mentoring; Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon;; 2018

[3]: Was ist Mentoring?; Tandemploy;; 2019

[4]: Coaching; Rauen, Christopher; Hogrefe; 2014

Constanze Schöffmann
Director Human Resources

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