Mentoring can be a career enhancing experience for both mentor and mentee. As a mentee, it could help you to refine professional, technical or career management skills. For mentors, it’s an opportunity to share your skills and knowledge while also demonstrating your leadership ability. So whether you are looking for a mentor or you’ve been asked to mentor, here are some things worth considering.
What mentoring looks like
Mentoring can look quite different in different contexts. It can be formal or informal. Internal or external to an organisation. Long term or short term. In person or virtual. Most likely, it would have a specific focus. Some employers offer structured mentoring programs, as do professional and industry organisations. Other times, people seek out their own mentor. However it develops, the important thing to begin with is that there is open communication and both parties are comfortable sharing with each other. Agreeing on the scope and purpose of the mentorship at the outset is also a good idea, although they may change over time and need reviewing.
Benefits for mentees
As someone looking for a mentor, this is your opportunity to drive the conversation. Thinking through why you want a mentor and the benefits you are looking for is a good place to start. Are you taking on a new role? Perhaps you’re looking to move into an executive role? Do you want to develop a particular skill? Is the mentoring in relation to a specific project or your career more broadly? Understanding your motivations and expectations can be helpful in choosing a suitable mentor. Discussing the benefits you are seeking with potential mentors could help with determining whether you are a good fit in terms of common goals, values and approaches. After choosing a mentor, be clear with them about what you want to achieve and perhaps even set some goals to help you get there.
Benefits for mentors
Being a mentor can be just as rewarding as being mentored. Additionally, it can be beneficial from a career perspective. Mentoring can be a fantastic way to develop or demonstrate your leadership and interpersonal skills. You may even find that you learn new skills or gain insights from your mentee along the way. Sharing your knowledge and experience may be something you find intrinsically rewarding or perhaps you simply believe in contributing to your industry and supporting your peers. Whatever your motivation, mentoring can be a great opportunity to demonstrate your skills and values in action.
I hope this has inspired you to consider seeking a mentor or becoming one. As a long term mentor myself, I can attest to just how encouraging, rewarding and satisfying sharing your knowledge and experience can be.