A mentor offers advice, guidance and support so you can progress and advance in your career. This person assists with navigating work challenges and choices, maintaining a key focus on professional and personal growth and development.
Mentoring relationships support self-development through the expansion of knowledge, understanding and learning. A mentor encourages you to identify your strengths and weaknesses, helping you learn how to work with both of these in a beneficial way. A mentor assists with identifying and reflecting on thoughts and emotions that come up in your career, and offers guidance on how to deal with these.
A mentor should be caring and empathic, whilst still challenging you directly, creating a safe space for you to honestly unpack concerns. This valuable relationship allows you to explore new opportunities and overcome challenges through choices and action.
The responsibility and choice is yours, however the valuable guidance and support encourages you to step into your power and strengths, leading to personal and professional growth.
Mentoring relationships are extremely beneficial and have become a key factor to advancing in your career. Top businesses - such as McKinsey, Deloitte and Investec - advise employees to have a mentor as part of their employee wellness and development programs. Mentoring programs have shown to enhance employee engagement, reduce employee turnover rates and improve productivity.
A key aspect of a mentoring relationship is to set and achieve goals. A mentor assists with unpacking goals so you can set specific, measurable, achievable, reliant and time-sensitive (SMART) goals. SMART goals are said to be the main purpose of a mentorship, as goal setting is key to work performance and development.
A mentor holds you accountable. After establishing your goals, you are then able to dive into your creativity, planning each step that will take you toward your main goals. A mentor assists with guiding the focus so you can move toward your goals and ultimately advance your career. Without goals, there is no direction or plan of where it is you want to go. The steps often change along the way. Having a mentor will assist with keeping you on track as well as navigating the changes required while holding you accountable. A mentor supports and motivates you to continue to work toward attaining your goals, and to not give up.
Learning to lead
A mentor listens for the most part, offers feedback when asked and likes to receive feedback from their mentees. They do this while guiding in a kind and compassionate but strong manner. The mentoring relationship will impact you as a mentee, allowing you to develop communication, self-awareness, collaboration and adaptability skill. These skills are vital for working with others, and thus support your growth and development as a colleague and leader. Through this relationship you will become more comfortable, learning to ask for support when you need it, which in turn will enrich your teamwork skills and self-efficacy.
Having a mentor to support and guide you will enhance your confidence and willingness to take on challenges. Emotional health has been aligned with mentor presence as employees who had a mentor showed higher rates of self-esteem, courage and openness. A mentor is a sounding board, allowing you to feel more comfortable when brainstorming and testing ideas. The mentoring relationship helps develop problem-solving skills and the willingness to be open to other approaches and ideas.
A mentor can assist in expanding your network and networking skills. Some mentors introduce mentees to their connections to assist with further learning and understanding of certain businesses and industries. Mentees often meet key individuals through their mentors who go on to play a role in key development or achieving certain goals. Being exposed to other professionals and key role players in the industry alone can enhance self-esteem, communication skills and open doors for new opportunities.
Mentors offer priceless knowledge, understanding and insight. Having a mentor provides the space to ask questions, solve problems and explore opportunities with the support of someone who has specific experience. You will develop valuable skills and learn how to deal with specific matters and tasks. A mentor also provides insight into how to manage and deal with certain obstacles and challenges that may emerge.
How do I find a mentor?
A mentor needs to be someone that you respect, someone you consider a role-model and someone you would allow into your decision making process. This is not a simple relationship, and like any relationship, trust and rapport will be built overtime.
Managers and supervisors are not your necessarily your mentors - although they may coach, support and assist you in your development, they are not entirely focused on your career journey. A mentor should be an objective person who can provide you with an outsider’s perspective. Unlike a coach, a mentor will share a commonality with you, such as working in the same industry.
To find your mentor you can start by joining groups in your field to grow your network. You may attend community groups or events in your industry, allowing yourself access to more people in your industry area. You can also connect with mentoring programs within your organisation or external events which are specifically designed to assist with connecting you with your mentor.
Overall, having a mentor can kickstart the development of your career and personal self development. Through the feedback and guidance provided you gain confidence, expand your network and become empowered. Although some of us may feel more in need of a mentor than others, having someone with more experience and knowledge to learn from is a gift for all of us.