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How to Improve Your Life Through Mentoring Programs

Cobbler and ApprenticeToday, Kerrie Main, Communications Director for Nobscot, discusses the benefits of mentoring programs both for mentors and mentees.  Here’s Kerrie…

If you’ve been looking for ways to develop further on your career path or simply want to find a way to give back to your organization, joining a mentoring program is a great idea! Mentoring programs, essential components of training and development programs, provide opportunities for shared growth for both mentors and mentees. No matter if you’re the mentor or mentee, there are numerous benefits of mentoring programs.

Benefits for Mentees

As a mentee, you will usually be responsible for driving the mentorship and your role is that of the willing participant and learner. Mentees can take advantage of numerous benefits.

Expand professional and personal networks

Mentors usually introduce their mentees to influential, knowledgeable professionals inside or outside their current industry and/or field. Developing these networking relationships plays an integral role in getting ahead, because who you know is just as important as what you know.

Learn about different career paths

Some mentees join mentoring programs because they want to explore alternative roles and career paths. Some of these paths may be a great fit, but some may not. Getting the opportunity to explore the pros and cons of potential career moves beforehand is priceless, because it allows you to avoid costly mistakes.

Increase self-awareness

Mentees are typically in charge of creating their own goals for the mentorship. Mentors facilitate the goal-setting process by helping mentees figure out their strengths and weaknesses to determine the best way to proceed. This step in the mentorship is extremely beneficial, as it allows mentees to see how others view them, compared to how they view themselves. Assessing these attributes gives you the chance to improve and learn.

Improve skill sets

In self-matched mentorships, the mentee sends an invitation to his or her prospective mentor. Mentees typically choose mentors who have experience and knowledge in areas in which the mentees want to improve. Mentors give one-on-one time to help their mentees develop, and activities may include job shadowing, mock conversations or “homework” assignments, such as assigned reading or projects.

Gain support in current or new role

Let’s face it – sometimes it’s difficult to talk to your direct manager about specific or sensitive issues, such as not getting along with a co-worker. Mentorships are usually confidential, and mentors give mentees a safe haven to talk about challenges and brainstorm creative solutions.

Benefits for Mentors

Mentors are typically responsible for motivating, supporting, challenging and inspiring their mentees. Sounds like a tall order? Well, don’t worry because mentors can take advantage of numerous benefits of mentorships as well.

Get a break from stressful responsibilities and duties

Mentors are usually seasoned professionals with a lot on their plates. Many people resist volunteering as a mentor because they think it will take up too much time, but what most mentors say is that mentoring actually gives them a well-earned break from their normal jobs.

Reflect on your own choices and career path

Being a mentor allows you, and sometimes forces you, to look at your own past choices – both successes and mistakes. In the mentor role, you’re usually giving a junior person advice, and he or she may be asking the same questions you did not that long ago. Getting the opportunity to reflect on decisions that have led you to the present can be very refreshing.

Renew your own enthusiasm

Here’s the thing about enthusiasm – it’s contagious. And there’s no better person to give you the “bug” than a motivated, enthusiastic mentee who is optimistic about his or her career and organization. Just being around all that positive energy is bound to rub off on you!

Improve your own skill sets

While many people assume that the mentee is in the “learner” role, mentees have a lot to teach as well. The younger generation has been exposed to technology all their life, and they can teach open-minded mentors a thing or two about how to use modern tools to make life and work more efficient. Beside the technology aspect, your mentee may ask for your assistance on a project or idea he or she is working on. Most mentors appreciate the opportunity to learn about different company projects or concepts that are not a part of their normal duties.

Feel good at the end of the day

“Paying it forward” is an excellent way to give back to society, as well as commemorate people that have helped you along your own career path. And think of it this way – you’re helping mold a future leader. Most mentors value the sense of accomplishment and pride that go hand in hand with helping a junior employee.

Mentorships typically last between nine and 18 months and are usually comprised of a senior employee and junior employee, though mentoring groups are gaining in popularity. No matter what type of mentorship or which role you’re in, you’ll benefit by being a part of one of these wonderful development programs. If your organization does not have one of these valuable programs in place, start one yourself or volunteer with your training and development department to help create one!

- Kerrie Main is Communications Director for Nobscot Corporation. She has more than 15 years experience in marketing, communications and employment staffing. Nobscot’s Mentor Scout division provides web based software for large corporate and association mentoring programs. Kerrie can be reached at Kerrie.main@nobscot.com. If you’d like to learn more, check out Mentor Scout, a web-based mentoring program management system that helps organizations facilitate mentor-mentee matching and track the success and goals of a mentoring program.

13 Responses to “How to Improve Your Life Through Mentoring Programs”

  1. These mentoring programs sound terrific for a structured employment position, but I can also see how the benefits listed are just as applicable to longer term relationships for the self-employed and personally, too.

    Fascinating and timely, bearing in mind my own readers’ response to a recent question:

    http://stephenpbrown.com/blog/index.php/unexpected-advice-and-a-possible-way-forward/

    Thank you for listing these, Kerrie (& Mike)!

    • Kerrie Main says:

      Thanks for the kind feedback, Stephen! Your blog post brings to mind something that one of our Honorable Mention mentors (from the 2012 Mentor of the Year Award) said – “At any point in your career, you should have at least 10 people you look to as mentors.” People often look at mentorships as formal relationships, but mentors/teachers/advisers can be peers, subordinates or people in higher positions – inside or outside of your organization.

      • neil bailey says:

        Kerrie Main, I endorse your contribution, we all do it instictively, seeking confirmation on issues, using somebdy else as sounding board reading through a brief, for comment, and so on

  2. Mohit Garg says:

    Kerrie, would you know of Fortune 500 companies who have experienced business benefits by having a formal mentor-mentee program?

    • Kerrie Main says:

      I think any company (Fortune 500 or otherwise) does/can experience a wide variety of business benefits from formal mentor-mentee programs. They can help groom high potentials, which is essential when you think about succession planning. Plus, mentees who feel like their organization is investing in them are typically more committed, which helps with costly employee turnover problems.

    • Rene Petrin says:

      Mentoring definitely works for companies of all sizes. We’ve been in the business mentoring business for over two decades and have watched our clients have great success, including companies like Enterprise Holdings (parent company of Enterprise Rent-a-Car) and US Fish & Wildlife. I don’t want to hijack this comment thread with links, but feel free to reach out to me, and I can point you to some case studies where both of these clients discuss their experience with mentoring programs in their organizations. Feel free to ask other questions as well! :)

  3. Mentoring programs can be beneficial to many sections of your life and the lives of others, as you well write Kerrie. But the one sector, I think it excels, is the “Improve your own skill sets”, since my experience totally agrees with the saying “If you want to learn something, teach it. Brilliant post. thank you for sharing.

  4. Ron Palmer says:

    Agreed. I have been formally appointed to mentor two very talented people – a CEO (City Manager) and an Economic Development Manager and have learned so much from the experience and the experience has been great for my own personal development

    • Kerrie,

      When we researched managers who were exceptional at developing people we found, in addition to formal mentor programs, they connected people up with others help in learning short term very specific needs. That way people had the experience of learning from many of these development partners, the managers got help in developing people and these informally recruited mentors got the many benefits you described. Thanks for answering the question so well of “what’s in it for the mentor.”

  5. […] See full Story on thoughtleadersllc.com […]

  6. Neil Bailey says:

    Very true, mentoring as in lecturing is a very good learning tool, and allows one to realize how much you have not forgotten, that in itself becomes motivational, and good for confidence rebuilding

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