By Jan Murray on Monday 14th May 2018
It is now widely accepted that mentoring can change careers and lives.
The Virgin group founder tapped into the knowledge of Sir Freddie Laker, a former airline founder, when he launched his Virgin airline.
In an interview Branson said "It's always good to have a helping hand at the start. I wouldn't have got anywhere in the airline industry without the mentorship of Sir Freddie Laker." He added, "Going it alone is an admirable, but foolhardy and highly flawed approach to taking on the world."
And let's not forget that other famous mentoring relationship – Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook and Steve Jobs founder of Apple. In an interview Zuckerberg said of Jobs "He was amazing. I had a lot of questions for him." Jobs was Zuckerberg's inspiration and he gave him advice on how to build a team that was as focused as Zuckerberg on building "high quality and good things".
Whilst these high profile mentoring relationships are a great illustration of the power of mentoring, it isn't necessary to hook up to a high profile business leader or high flying professional to have an effective mentoring relationship. An effective mentor needs to be able to understand their mentee's needs, recognise where they are in their career journey and help them make decisions about how to reach their goals.
While it is important that mentees enter a mentoring relationship with a clear idea of what they want from it, it is equally important that they are prepared to consider changing direction and explore new opportunities.
A mentor's role is to challenge and get the mentee to really think through why they want to do something and if it is the best course of action.
Mentoring is a relationship whereby the mentor is prepared to listen to the mentee talk about their hopes, aspirations, concerns and fears and to explore options in relation to these. However, it is important not to stray into personal challenges as this is an area a mentor may not be qualified to comment on. Mentoring should not be confused with counselling.
To avoid mentoring conversations drifting and relationships stalling it is important to set out clear goals at the start of the relationship and then ensure that each meeting is focussed on drawing out actions that need to be completed in order to bring the achievement of the goals closer. Mentees need to ensure that they then put in the effort to complete the actions otherwise progress will not be made and the relationship could stall.
The role of the mentor is not to spend the majority of the time talking to the mentee about their experience, it is to listen to the mentee, understand their needs, recognise where they are in their career journey and help them make decisions that will lead to them reaching their goals. As part of this process a mentor may feel it appropriate to share their experiences to illustrate a point, but shouldn't expect that the mentee will necessarily repeat that experience.
In a successful mentoring relationship, the mentor will encourage the mentee to become independent and recognise the uniqueness of their mentee's journey to professional development.
At PLD our mentoring platform is used by a wide range of organisations to match mentors and mentees and provide a mentoring framework and resources to ensure that relationships stay on track to achieve goals and objectives. If you would like to find out more why not request a demo.