As The Beatles told us, we all get by with a little help from our friends. And while mentors don’t usually reach friend status, the relationship can do wonders for everyone involved.
Obviously, we love mentoring. The connection, the learning, the confidence-building. Full disclosure: it’s a big part of what we do, so obviously we’re going to sing its praises.
But, guys, it works.
Whether you’re a mentor or mentee, new perspectives are always valuable. And while that exchange of ideas in a safe place is really at the heart of mentoring; the benefits extend way beyond a chatty catch up.
What is mentoring? And what is it not?
Essentially, mentoring is about an experienced person (the mentor) giving guidance to someone less experienced (the mentee). Whether it’s 1:1 or group mentoring, the idea is about gaining insights from someone who’s been there before; role model.
It’s not about teaching a prescriptive, narrow way of working that dictates exactly what a mentee should do. Rather, it’s an opportunity to ask questions, share perspectives and get feedback – then apply that to our own unique situations.
The fact is, your career belongs to you.
How does mentoring help a mentor?
It’s easy to assume a mentoring program is all about the mentee. Granted, the focus is on helping that person progress through their career journey – but there’s plenty on offer for mentors, too.
It’s fertile ground for leadership development, for starters. You have a chance to hone the skills you need to lead, put them into action and learn your people management style. You’ll become a way better listener, you’ll grow your own network and – believe it or not – you’ll learn from whoever you’re mentoring. It’s a two way street, Strivers.
Olga Rankin, Novon’s Customer Experience and Success Director, says it’s absolutely the giving back factor she loves about mentoring.
‘It lets me help people through their growth by encouraging them, collaborating with them and supporting them through their journey,’ she enthuses. ‘Personally, I love the idea of sharing the lessons I’ve learned. Not everyone has to learn from their own mistakes – I’m happy to let them learn from mine!
‘[Also], mentoring helps me develop my leadership skills and my ability to influence and give feedback.’
And, at the end of the day, we all love the buzz of paying it forward. It feels good to support and help others – and bonus points if someone is happy to make mistakes before you can!
How does mentoring help a mentee?
Wherever you are on the career ladder, having a mentor to advise, guide and learn from can make your journey a far richer experience.
As a mentee, you’ll have the support you need to:
- Nail your goal setting
- Increase your chance of promotion
- Develop strong communication skills
- Widen your network
- Boost your motivation
In short: there aren’t any reasons not to get involved.
Laura Scholey, Strivin’s Head of Growth, believes one of the best things about mentoring is the power of the collective. Two minds are almost always better than one.
‘[Mentoring means] you don’t have to rely on your own brain the whole time,’ she says. ‘Whether it’s technical or emotional support you need…having a different perspective is really important.
‘We’ve all got perceptions of things…based on our upbringing and…our prior experience, so sometimes having another person come in and say ‘here’s how I interpret that’ really helpsyou open your mind and see things a different way.’
Making the most out of mentoring
So, how do you ensure your mentoring sessions are more than a place to vent or a handy way to bulk up your resume?
After canvassing the opinions of a whole bunch of HR experts during National Mentoring Day, we think it boils down to these key pointers:
👀 Be open, curious and positive – no one has all the answers, but a close-minded attitude gets you nowhere
🏁Take the time to plan before you get in the room, so you get the most out of every session
🙏🏼 Accept the grace and wisdom that comes your way – take what’s useful and leave what’s not.
As Sophie Zdenkowski, says, it comes down to knowing what you want from the relationship.
‘I would encourage everybody to pause and reflect,’ she tells us. ‘Get out a pen and paper and jot down some ideas that are in your head. What’s important to you? What are your dreams? What are your concerns?
‘Then, when you get the chance to have the conversation…you can let it flow and hopefully get something valuable out of it.’
Mentoring: there’s something for everyone
Whether you’re just starting out, changing direction or consolidating your career, mentoring can bring out your best. We all need a helping hand sometimes – and we all need to give back. Mentoring scores top marks on both!