Having a mentor is one of the most important things a person can do to enhance their career and professional life, so it's no surprise that at least 75% of executives have said that mentoring has been vital in their career development.
What is mentoring and how does it differ from coaching?
Before we look at the benefits of mentoring it is important to understand the difference between having a coach and having a mentor. The coach's role tends to be to show you what to do and provide you with answers. On the other hand, a mentor is someone who discusses things with you, helps to widen your perspective, encourages you to think of and evaluate different options and solutions, helps identify obstacles you need to overcome and acts as an impartial sounding board. When you work with a mentor, you make your own decisions and find your solutions.
It is a popular misconception that mentorships involve senior employees giving guidance to junior employees; mentors do not necessarily have to be more senior than the people they mentor. The best mentoring relationships involve someone who has the desired skills and traits sharing with someone who wants to learn them.
Why is mentoring beneficial?
Mentoring should be a mutually beneficial relationship where both the mentor and mentee expand their knowledge.
For example, a younger mentee just starting their career may bring a great deal of knowledge to a seasoned mentor on how to navigate social media channels, of new trends and challenges in the current professional landscape, and how to motivate younger employees.
Mentoring is an excellent way of developing skills, relationships, self-awareness and self-confidence and personal growth. Mentoring can help identify areas to develop, improve problem solving and helps ensure correct decisions are made.
Benefits Career Mentors Can Provide
- Knowledge Transfer
Connecting professionals in your industry or organisation enables them to get up to speed faster and lessens the learning curve.
While it's always good to have people in your life who will boost your ego, constructive criticism is the most efficient way to improve personally and professionally from a career development perspective. Mentors can provide that honesty when needed the most and help recognise areas where mentees need to grow. Having someone constructively point out areas of weaknesses can set a mentee on a path for improvement.
Regardless of career stage, there will always be times when people may feel overwhelmed or that things just aren't going the way they would want them to. Having a mentor can help a mentee see the positive side of situations and the light at the end of the tunnel. They can give the encouragement needed to keep going, even when a mentee feels like giving up.
- A Trusted Advisor
Mentors can act as a great sounding board for ideas and enable mentees to give an honest opinion without an ulterior motive at play. This can foster a culture of greater creativity and idea generation. Mentors can provide a safe, confidential environment for mentees to discuss their aspirations, ideas and concerns and help them with these, helping the mentee to feel valued.
- Avoid Mistakes
Although one of the best ways to learn is by making mistakes and learning from those mistakes, it is even better if the errors can be avoided in the first place. Having a mentor provides the opportunity for mentees to learn from someone who's already been through similar experiences and thus help them navigate potential mistakes.
Choosing the right mentor
The first step is for the mentee to be clear in their mind about why they want a mentor and what specific help they are looking for, the challenge(s) they want to overcome or goals they want to achieve. This will give the mentoring relationship a purpose and help the mentee be clear on what they are looking for from a potential mentor. With our mentoring platform, we provide diagnostic the tools for mentees to identify their key challenges and goals and then they can choose to be matched up to mentors according to the skills they want to develop. It's then up to the mentee to keep the relationship moving forward, supported by the tools and resources within the platform.