I was recently invited to a job panel to discuss why a Mentor is Important for your Business . It made me think about my career and the role mentoring played. Mentoring – being both a mentor and a mentee – came late in my career. When I had a chance to connect with mentors, I saw how this unlocks the ability to pursue opportunities, leverage resources, and create a feedback loop that is important to anyone’s career journey and progress.
Benefits of Mentoring
Today’s business world is complex and changing. It is critical to navigate and manoeuvre. A combination of soft and hard skills is often at the centre of this. Having a mentor, usually a person with more experience, provides an opportunity to understand the best ways to achieve this.
In my career, I came to a point where my progress stopped despite being a top player. And this is where learning and connecting helps me get through this. To be clear, I didn’t have a single mentor or an official regular cadence, but what I had was a small network that I would lean on for different perspectives. And from there, I started applying these tips, building allies in the right places, and making my strengths visible to those that matter.
What does this mean for companies and organizations that their employees have mentoring benefits? In my case, having this guidance and advice allowed me to take on career opportunities that I wouldn’t otherwise have had. My confidence increased and my goals became clear. And this meant that my organization at the time was able to use my talents most effectively and translate that into deepening employee engagement – I stayed longer and contributed more.
Mentoring also gives voice to many who are unable to progress on their own. Having a wide variety of voices around the table is extremely beneficial for running any business, organization or project as it brings different solutions and perspectives that directly translate into success and ultimately result in a positive cascading effect.
The benefits of mentoring are not just limited to clients. Now that I am mentoring, I find incredible value in developing my leadership and management skills and applying insights into my organizational relationships. These insights, priorities, decision-making, alternative and unusual solutions etc. with my various mentees. It stems from the controversy on their topic. It’s great to have clients and they’ve helped me focus in different ways.
What Makes a Good Mentor?
In general, a good mentor is someone motivated and energetic, cares about developing others and is willing to devote their time. Also, if you are a mentor, make sure you allocate the time and energy needed to be properly guided. It is most effective when there is a good match between mentor and mentee who in the past faced skill sets, experiences, roles, or similar challenges.
Recently, I had a mentee whose career trajectory was similar to mine, but most importantly, he faced common problems that I encountered at similar points in my career. As a result, there was a lot to share, discuss and distinguish.
I find it very important to set goals while finding a good mentor. As a mentee, you can only identify a mentor who will be clear about what you want to achieve. Responsibility always belongs to clients – you should have it – but a good mentor will help you reach a better framework, especially if you are bothered by doubt and uncertainty.
A good mentor also builds trust, prudence and respect for confidentiality. As a mentee, you should feel safe and be able to share a friendly and transparent conversation. I am a person who appreciates speaking straight, and therefore my best advisors were those who did not hesitate constructively to highlight my weaknesses and give criticism.
Whether you are looking for a mentor or what to be one, this is the book for you.
How to Find a Mentor
Before you start finding a mentor, focus on goal setting. Map your goals and set clear expectations of how a mentor can help you. If you are unsure, at least define broad contours and a directional path.
If you want to find a mentor inside or outside your company, look into various disciplines and functions. Who were you looking for? Whose job would you like to have in the next five, 10 or 15 years? Do you have a role model where you work? A different functional and industry perspective can also be valuable while pairing for similar skills, experiences, and roles. Do your research. Make sure it suits your needs.
If you are not part of a mentor program and are looking for it on your own, identify and get to know them first. Chat for Discovery or follow on LinkedIn. Understand their point of view. Essentially, make a connection before asking them to be your mentor.
Sometimes, it makes perfect sense to start with your professional network. Usually, we already have people who provide advice in various ways, and all it takes is to turn that connection into a permanent relationship. It’s also important to note that a mentor does not always have to be older or more experienced. Peer guidance can be equally powerful.
When companies and organizations help build leaders at all levels, the chances of progress and positive business results are much higher. Mentoring is a great way to develop employee skills, advocate for diversity across the organization, and drive the desired impact of corporate culture with far-reaching impact on employee development.
At the individual level, mentoring is insightful and helpful. For me, this has been a transformational learning and growth experience as both a mentor and a mentee – it has been rewarding! Take your time and continue with this.