I have recently had the opportunity of becoming a mentor to a colleague that had been with the company for just under a year. Having had ample opportunities to have her identified as a potential future star, it didn’t escape me that women and minorities in particular, may face more challenges and may not reap the same opportunities as men do in corporate life.
Being mentored is arguably one of the most valuable and effective development opportunities you can offer your best employees. Receiving the support and guidance of a trusted and experienced manager can provide a mentee with a broad range of personal and professional advantages, which ultimately lead to improved performance in the workplace.
Throughout my career, there have been many times when advice, support or criticism would have been valuable in my professional development, however I have never experienced being a mentee. A good mentor would have, in my belief, provided me with valuable feedback or recommendations that would have enabled me to experience exponential personal growth and bigger career success.
Mentoring involves two parties meeting regularly to exchange ideas, discuss progress and set goals for further development. A mentoring relationship has to be built on mutual trust, respect and good communication.
So here are my top 10 reasons why every budding star should have a mentor:
- Personalized advice on developing strengths and overcoming weaknesses -identify skills you need to develop or improve upon.
- One-to-one coaching on goal setting, career options and planning – identifying potential target posts within the organization.
- Advice in blending-in and navigating the corporate culture and its internal politics and insider knowledge of any unspoken rules.
- Stretch your way of thinking by providing you with another perspective to your own. A mentor will be your independent voice, outside of your direct sphere of activity.
- Receive organizational commitment from the company which will enhance job satisfaction and security.
- You will learn how to become a mentor and again advanced leadership skills.
- Enhances your networking opportunities.
- Increases your visibility and recognition within the organization.
- Gain assistance with solving problems.
- Having the advice of someone who has “been there”, “done that” and “tried that” is always useful.
Organizations can formally facilitate mentoring relationships by matching mentors with their mentees. Some professional organizations make it a condition on senior executives to “serve time” mentoring new-comers before receiving further promotions. I am lucky that I have had two different mentoring relationships that were products of mentoring matches in aid of advancing women’s careers in insurance.
I believe that inequality on the basis of gender, religion or ethnicity, in the long run, may have negative consequences for a growing company in the retention and career advancement of some otherwise talented future leaders.
In organizations that do not have formal mentoring arrangements, the would-be mentee needs to take the initiative to ask for guidance from a mentor, since it is the mentee that needs the mentoring relationship the most.
I encourage senior executives that have the skills and the abilities to identify potential people they think could benefit from mentoring and become a factor in their success.