Outside the world of work, all of us have had those in our lives we have looked up to and learned from. Whether it was a parent or grandparent, teacher, or friend, these mentors have helped us grow. Given how important the mentor relationship can be in our personal lives, workplace mentors can be equally as valuable. Today, we’d like to take some time to explore the advantages of building mentor relationships in the workplace and why they are so important in career progression and success.
Firstly, a good mentor is someone who is motivated to help others develop, share their wisdom and experience, and give constructive advice. Not just anyone is cut out for this: someone who sees their peers as competition or threats will be a poor mentor, as their self-interest will color their interactions. Neither is the workaholic who spends every waking minute working on job-specific tasks as they won’t have enough time to give their mentee positive interactions and attention.
A good mentor, then, is someone who can recognize and nurture potential, provide meaningful thoughts and insights, and make the time to develop their mentee’s abilities and talents.
Something else to keep in mind is that compatibility between mentor and mentee is paramount, and even someone who has the qualities of a good mentor may not be a good fit for a given mentee.
Given the stringent criteria for a good mentor, it should be no surprise that finding one can be challenging. Even in companies with mentorship programs, it is valuable to know how to find a mentor for yourself. In this case, Forbes suggests a few questions to ask yourself: “Who do you look up to? Whose job would you like to have in the next five, 10 or 15 years? Do you have a role model where you work?” In addition, especially if your target mentor is not a member of your own company, it is important to establish a connection with them before asking them to mentor you. Get in touch, be it through social media, email, a phone call, or whatever lets you open a dialogue.
Lastly, remember that most companies want to provide mentorship to their employees to increase their value, so if you’re having trouble, see what resources your workplace has to offer!
We know what makes a good mentor and some tips for trying to find one of your own but let’s drill down into why exactly mentors are so important. According to Guider, a company who has created a software platform to support mentors and mentoring, a staggering 94% of employees say that they would stay with a company longer if they were offered opportunities to learn and grow. Additionally, 71% of people with mentors feel that their company offers them good opportunities to advance in their careers through mentorship, as opposed to only 41% of people without mentors.
Mentors and mentees alike are both at least five times more likely to be promoted, and a solid 87% of both groups also report an increase in confidence and feelings of empowerment from their mentorship relationship.
So what is it about mentoring that brings about all these benefits? There are a wealth of things that a mentor offers their mentee. Not only do they provide obvious advantages of knowledge and support for growth of their mentees, mentors can also help with planning and goal setting, offer useful and valuable feedback, help keep mentees accountable and motivated, and provide support and encouragement to those they mentor. At the same time, the mentor benefits from improved communication and leadership skills, while boosting their own knowledge and confidence through the process of guiding their mentees.
It is clear that mentorship has tremendous value for both the mentor and the mentee. If you find yourself wondering whether finding or becoming a mentor is a good choice, we hope this article has helped make that decision easier! After all, “Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.” — John Crosby