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.
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.firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.