Mentorship is defined as a relationship or a partnership based on providing knowledge and expertise to someone with lesser experience. While entering the workforce we are wide-eyed, enthusiastic, ready to tackle any curveballs thrown at us. But wouldn’t it be nice to have professional support, guiding us and saving us from the pitfalls in the work path? Here’s where the role of a mentor comes in. Whether it’s through a formal program or someone you seek on your own, the dynamics of a mentor-mentee relationship evolves over a period of time, become an enriching and fulfilling professional bond.
We all might have experienced mentorship in our life in some way or the other, whether it was through a parent, a high school professor or even an elder sibling. When it comes to mentorship at the workplace, it plays a bigger role as it can take your career to newer heights. In fact, a long term study by Sun Microsystems discovered that mentees were promoted 5 times more often than their other peers. So what exactly can a mentor help you with?
Strengthening strengths & minimizing weaknesses
More often than not, we are blinded to our shortcomings because we look at ourselves too closely to see the bigger picture. We sometimes need others to introduce them to us. In the case of mentoring, mentors provide you with invaluable insights and constructive criticism. Even high performers and high achieving employees can benefit from a mentorship program because no matter how much you know, there’s a lot to be gained from a more experienced individual. A mentor helps in identifying, not only weaknesses but also the strengths. This is crucial because when you are aware of your strengths and weaknesses, only then you can go about working to improve or eliminate the undesirous. Apart from helping to overcome your weaknesses, they help you in honing your skills by providing opportunities where more of those skills are put to use.
Growing your network
Mentors bring with themselves, a list of contacts of other professionals in the same function as well as in other verticals. They may take you along to events and introduce you to a variety of people in the industry, thus helping you grow your network even more. This is especially beneficial to college students or those who have just entered the workforce as they have limited knowledge of the working industry as well as limited connections and this gives them a chance to meet new people from the same field. Networking skills are important for career growth but surprisingly, schools and colleges don’t focus on them. As a result, they don’t develop much until we start working. A mentor can help you fill the skill gap by showing you the ropes and on the job learning can help you become self- sufficient in holding your own. It is particularly helpful to have a wide professional network when looking for a job change as you can reach out to a number of people as well as to keep up with what other people are up to in their professional life. Doing so can help you with ideas about how you want to craft your own career path.
Improving decision making
Mentors can help you in gaining a new perspective on a persistent issue you might be dealing with. A mentor can guide you not only with managing work at the workplace but can also help you achieve some level of equilibrium concerning your professional obligations and a demanding personal life. Over time your guide will begin to know you closely as a person as well as how you think and function. Rest assured, all their tips and suggestions regarding any issue will come from a place of understanding making them a solid support system. Having gone through the same stages as you are, they know the path and what it is strewn with hence their insights help you make better decisions and you evolve into a better decision-maker. From giving advice on where to strike a balance between the personal and professional, to navigating office, a mentor gradually becomes the person one goes to for every problem.
Developing leadership qualities
Mentors are usually in a higher position in the company. Inadvertently, they pass on their leadership skills to their mentees. Humans learn by observing and when you see your mentor go about their work – dealing with challenges, managing people etc. subconsciously, you too imbibe those qualities and when the time comes, you become better equipped to lead, having been under the wing of an able mentor.
When given a chance, mentors become a compass for your personal growth and give you direction when required. Organizations too play a role in facilitating a mentoring culture. A company’s culture steeped in learning and growing together provides the ideal environment for employees to remain engaged. With formal mentorship programs, companies can ensure that in the long run, it’s not just employees who develop but the organization does too. As a company, you will then play a part in their personal journey while letting your organization grow from the efforts of high potential employees.