a question to all the european (italian??) listeners: do you have any experience in your company of mentoring? Have you ever heard of mentoring processes among your collegues/friends?

As I've no experience (in italy), I'd like to understand if this kind of 'process' has some kind of cultural implication.


Mark's picture
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PierG et al-

I'd love to hear any and all comments. American managers, when asked, have assumed that mentoring (perhaps informal) is more prevalent in Europe than here.


drken's picture


I am with a large multinational IT services organization, and here in Germany we've had formal mentoring programs off-and-on since I joined 6 years ago. (In Germany, it seems everything is formal -- I would joke that the notion of an informal business practice in Germany probably doesn't exist.)

My recollection is that no such mentoring program has been so overwhelmingly successful as to be retained for more than 2-3 years. But at the same time, my company seems to re-organize itself within this timeframe so that may be a reason that such programs are dropped. I've never participated in such a program myself, so I can't provide any insight there.

I think a point strongly related to this is the notion of "management" itself, which strikes me as akin to the enlisted/officer mentality of some militaries. Some companies hire manager-trainees, then cycle these people at regular intervals through the various BUs, countries, and focus areas -- with the intention of creating managers rather than simply promoting those who may excel at their jobs. (It can be quite an investment, but at least in some European countries there is still something of a "one company for life" mindset.) People I've known in such programs are usually assigned mentors, but as part of that specific program.



Mark's picture
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Brilliant! Thanks for sharing. Mike and I are in Germany now, and I have been asking and hearing similar answers.

Glad you're with us.


codereader's picture

As a native German I have to contribute to this :wink:

I understand 'mentor' as a role where someone - typically more senior, more experienced - is helping another person by consulting.

In my experience at least larger German companies try to formalize the roles in certain defined situations. Typically the mentor is from a different department, no direct reports, to facilitate a honest, neutral feedback.

Most popular if someone new is starting in the company: the mentor will help that new person to get accustomed to the new company. Another typical situation as described by Ken: so called "trainee" programs or management potential programs.

By the way: Germans love to be formal. The only place to be informal is the soccer arena :lol:

burguetjf's picture

Hi PierG

Am an currently being mentored in Milan, Italy. Have had about 5 sessions already in 2006. Will have the same this year. This is part of our (Dutch origin) company culture to help senior managers improve performance and behaviour with their peers. The process includes a full 360° anonymous review which should take place for me this month. Let me know if you still need more info.


JohnGMacAskill's picture
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I've just started mentoring a newly promoted supervisor/manager in her first role. It was on my suggestion as I see great potential and I want to help - as well as ensure she is shown the MT way!! :wink:

This is my first mentoring position. I have explained to her that this is a learning experience for myself as well.

BTY, I just listened to the Mentoring podcast and took the lessons in reverse...i.e. from the mentor perspective. It is working thus far.

I do not have a line manager responsibility. There are books and no doubt web resources available.

stuince's picture


I read this thread with interest.

I work in Pharma in Germany and started off work with an experienced "mentor" (or tutor ??). He basically sorted out my start (organized introductions to colleagues and managers) and helped me work into the technical day to day project work.

The most powerful effect came because he was working in the SAME project as me. So I had immediate context on what he was telling me. This gave the maximum learning.

I'm not sure if you would refer to him as a "tutor"??

The funny thing is after I became more experienced he really did become a "mentor" - available for advice on any number of difficult issues.

He's now enjoying retirement - I owe everything to him!

I can really recommend the mentoring system.


rachaelip's picture
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As I am an American expat working in the Netherlands, I am certainly not an expert, but I thought I would add my two cents...

My company (which is a large Dutch corporation) values mentoring and we do have a formal program. However I believe that the mentoring that really works is done informally. The podcast on mentoring was very correct to state that the key is choosing someone you admire and building a relationship.

I am just beginning a new mentoring relationship with my first Dutch mentor. I have had several successful American mentors throughout my 5 year career here; therefore I am very interested to observe the differences.


ifindallas's picture

In my 10+ years working in Spain (I am a native of Barcelona now living and working in the US), I did not encountered formal mentoring programs. I did however, found excellent informal mentors, with whom I built relationships, which develop into friendships. These mentors gracefully shared their wisdom and provided much needed advice.

Informal mentoring vs. formal programs might be typical of other Mediterranean countries, like Italy.


abregliano's picture

Hello everybody,

I work in a Telecommunication company in Rome, Italy, I am not a manager yet, but my boss likes me enough that has recently asked me to mentor the new recruit in our group.

I am presently a 5th level while the new recuit is a 6th level, that means I am going to mentor someone who is higher than me in our organization which can probably testify to the kind of "Italian informality" as long as mentoring is concerned.
There has been no need to fill in forms of any kind, just a quick conversation between the three of us.

My boss gave me specific instructions on what he expects me to teach and he also added a deadline of one month.
As far as I am concerned I am happy to finally have a "spounge" able to sock in all I can share.

Happy new year to you all