By editorial staff
I shall therefore send to you the actual books; and in order that you may not waste time in
searching here and there for proftable topics, I shall mark certain passages, so that you can
turn at once to those which I approve and admire. Of course, however, the living voice
and the intimacy of a common life will help you more than the written word. You must go
to the scene of action, frst, because men put more faith in their eyes than in their ears, and
second, because the way is long if one follows precepts, but short and helpful, if one follows
Therefore I summon you, not merely that you may derive beneft, but that you may confer
beneft; for we can assist each other greatly.
(Seneca, Moral letters to Lucilius/Letter 6)
Seneca’s words are, even today, one of the clearest defnitions that best exemplify the essence of one of the oldest and most powerful training practices: mentoring.
When, more than 7 years ago, we at Fastweb decided to introduce this practice among our development tool proposals, we started from here.
For us, mentoring is a way of extracting the value present in the company and its objective is to give formal support to the professional or managerial development of mentees, to their level of understanding of company dynamics, and it is an experience that allows them to better understand and ‘navigate’ Fastweb.
Each year this programme involves around 20/25 pairs of mentors and mentees. Mentors are managers or individual
contributors who, regardless of their age or seniority in the company, offer their greatest managerial or professional experience in a skill in an exchange with mentees.
The latter, in turn, have established a development objective together with their managers, which may be linked to growth in terms of the skills they need for their professional role, or to their growth in terms of managerial responsibility.
The programme lasts 9 months and includes an initial training session for mentors and mentees, support during the process with a number of check-ins, and a closing celebration event to share the lessons learned.
Mentors and mentees are also provided with methodological sheets and guiding questions to help them through the various stages of the process. No two paths are ever the same, and the responsibility for success is based on the commitment and adherence of both parties.
Even before we begin, one of the most delicate issues that we pay particular attention to is matching mentor and mentee: we always start with the mentee’s objective in order to identify, together with the manager and Human Resources, the mentor who will be the best ft and who can be of value.
Experience over the years has shown us that this certainly facilitates the success of the process.
But it is not the only factor.
It is more important than ever to devote time to building a relationship based on trust and listening, a relationship that, although it is embedded in a formalised process, is completely unique and personalised.
Mentoring is a two-way developmental pathway: while the initial focus is the mentee’s development goal, the mentors
involved have always returned what value they have gleaned from the pairing; the mentoring relationship has, on some occasions, become a space for questioning and updating certain beliefs, a space for growth, therefore, also for the mentor.
In general, mentoring also acquires strong value in building networking between different teams and facilitates, in some situations, the creation of new synergies and proximity between business and staff structures.
The richness of mentoring lies precisely here: in the signifcant and mutual change of knowledge systems, work, skills and ways of thinking, as Seneca wrote.
"Therefore I summon you, not merely that you
may derive beneft, but that you may confer
beneft; for we can assist each other greatly"