In an comprehensive article on mentoring (When Mentoring Goes Bad), WSJ provides some really good hints on how mentoring can work and what can go wrong. Clearly, since the mentor has more experience, they need to decide how to choose the protege and how to guide them.
Questions to Ask Yourself
1. If you are mentoring someone, are you giving them enough of your time and interesting work?
2. Are the personality and work habits of your protégé similar to yours, and if not, are you able to make sure that doesn’t get in the way of working together?
3. Have you and your protégé clearly outlined his or her professional-development goals?
4. If you are being mentored, is the work interesting, and does your mentor give you credit for any projects you complete for him or her?
5. Do you feel like part of a team, and are you treated in an open, respectful manner?
Mentoring in R&D management is quite difficult to begin with. Quite understandable becasue the disciplines invovled are so diverse and questions so broad. I have had mixed luck with being mentored. One of my mentors still helps me move ahead despite the fact that he has moved on to a completely different division of the company. It has been great to have his counsel. One of my bosses just wanted to show off and talk about how great he was. I was asked to start producing results without ever suggesting ways in which I could actually do that. Any experiences you could share?