Mentoring is a process in which an experienced individual helps another person develop his or her goals and skills through a series of time-limited, confidential, one-on-one conversations and other professional interactions.
There are many benefits to successful mentoring relationships, including:
For the mentee:
- Greater clarity about personal development and career goals
- Being able to discuss, in an open and unthreatening environment, issues about their career and development
- Improved networking
- Practical advice on organizational politics
- The opportunity to be challenged constructively
- Transfer of knowledge and judgment
- Having a role model
Various research data suggest that mentees achieve greater confidence in their own potential and ability; feel more secure in their role (especially at senior levels); and, earn more than their non-mentored counterparts. There is also data to suggest that having a mentor is a critical factor in the career success of over 80% of CEOs.
For the mentor:
- Your own learning (often mentors report as much and more learning than mentees)
- The opportunity to practice good developmental behaviors outside your direct line of responsibilities
- Development of your own self-awareness
- Greater understanding of other areas of the business and/or of alternate cultures
Recent research among women leaders, who are being mentored by more senior males indicates that more than half of the mentors feel more secure in their roles. There are many reasons why young professionals find a mentor valuable. Part of my role as a mentor is to find out what is most important to the mentee. A mentee may be looking for a broader perspective on the commercial finance industry, or someone to coach them through issues that they might be uncomfortable sharing within their own company.
Many mentees have had no prior access to mentoring. They may be picking up what they can on the job, but may not have had the opportunity to step back and evaluate their strengths and objectives. One challenge a mentee may face is feeling inhibited from asking questions at work, because they believe they are expected to already know the answer.
There may be ways that I think about my own career that come naturally to me, that these young professionals have no awareness of, and I may need to help them learn to use self-development tools that will then help them develop their own goals, values and strategies.
The bottom line is that none of us succeeds in business or society without learning a complex set of skills that includes self-awareness, awareness of others, relationship techniques, networking skills, planning skills and the ability to make decisions based on what we believe is important to us.
We learn many of these skills early in life from parents and teachers, but there is an ongoing need to refresh and deepen these skills as we encounter the new challenges that come with career progression.
A mentorship is a mutually rewarding initiative - for the mentee, the chance to deepen skills that may been introduced by parents and teachers earlier in life and for the mentor, a chance to further develop one's own self awareness and and gain a greater understanding of other cultures and businesses within the industry.