The Art of Mentoring —And how it’s beneficial for you
What mentoring is, the roles and responsibilities of the mentor and the mentee, how to make the most of a mentor relationship, and how mentoring can benefit organizations.
Having a good mentor relationship can be beneficial for both your personal life and your career. It can help you meet your short-term and long-term goals, and it accelerates your growth as you don’t have to reinvent the wheel yourself all the time.
I have had several mentors during my career, some of them good and, to be honest, most of them rather bad. I started doing mentoring through Kevness during the summer of 2021 and wanted to make the most of it. For me mentoring is a way to help someone grow, and to grow myself at the same time. So why not do it properly and invest some time in it?
My learnings inspired me to write this article where we’ll have a look at
- What mentoring is
- What the roles and responsibilities are for the mentor and the mentee
- How to make the most of a mentor relationship
- Why it’s beneficial for organizations to have proper mentoring programs.
What is mentoring?
Mentoring originates from Homer’s Odyssey. When Odysseus left to fight the Trojan War, he asked his friend Mentor to advise and teach his son Telemachus. Mentoring came to be seen as a relationship between a teacher and a student, and the term refers to someone who is a guide and an educator.
A mentoring relationship emphasizes helping the individual grow, setting, and accomplishing goals and includes several approaches to doing so. Mentoring relationships are mutual and personal, and hence it’s recommended that mentoring is done for a longer period. Mentoring has some similarities with coaching, even though there are quite a few differences.
Mentoring is often a longer-term relationship on the directive side, it’s more instructing, advising, telling and development is driven by a holistic approach.
Coaching is usually more performance-driven, non-directive, asking questions and giving space to the person they are coaching for reflection.
The mentor-mentee relationship varies from case to case, but in general, the goal is to help the mentee achieve personal and professional objectives.
The mentor’s role and responsibilities
- Acting as a role model
- Help the mentee with their (career) development
- Provide constructive feedback
- Coaching the mentee
- Following up on progress for the mentee
The mentee’s roles and responsibilities
- To be coachable
- Be an active listener
- Have clear goals for the mentor-mentee relationship
- Ask for feedback
- Respect the mentor’s time
- Be ready to move on — mentor-mentee relationships do not last forever
How to make the most of mentoring
To ensure good quality and value from the mentor relationship a mentor and mentee should at minimum meet at least one hour per month for at least one year. Creating a good relationship takes time and effort, and hence I personally prefer biweekly meetings.
The biggest learning I’ve had from my unsuccessful mentor-mentee relationships (where I have been the mentee) is:
Meeting regularly and often is probably the most important thing in building a successful relationship. It helps build rapport and develops trust, and improves communication. Effective mentorship occurs when expectations are aligned, strengths and limitations are shared, and short-term and long-term goals are set.
Setting goals is important, because it drives growth, clarifies action points, and helps in following up on the progress. Additionally, it helps in defining if the cooperation between the mentor and mentee works or not.
There are different stages in mentorship which are to be acknowledged to make it more effective and to also understand when it’s time to end the program. A good mentor understands when it’s time for the mentee to find a new mentor to ensure further growth.
Stages in mentorship
- Initiation: expectations are formed, and the mentor and mentee are getting to know each other
- Cultivation: the relationship matures and the stage where the mentor provides the greatest degree of career and psychosocial support to the mentee
- Separation: the mentee seeks autonomy and independence from the mentor.
- Redefinition: the mentorship program is terminated, or it’s transitioned to a different form of relationship (peer-like interactions, friendship).
Why organizations benefit from mentorship programs
Through mentoring people can learn from one another, it provides a path for growth and is a good way to transfer knowledge. Well-defined, intentional, and structured mentoring programs can grow the current workforce, retain the talent in the organization and attract potential employees.
Mentoring improves productivity, breaks down silos by broadening perspectives, increases professional development, and creates a more open culture. It’s also a great way to improve retention. HR.com’s 2021 State of Coaching and Mentoring Report found that 67 percent of HR professionals feel mentoring leads to improved organizational performance. Studies have also shown that mentoring can combat burnout, feelings of isolation, and stagnation.
Now you hopefully have a better idea of what mentoring is, or what it could be. If you are a mentor or mentee, reflect on how you could improve the relationship. Are you living up to the roles and responsibilities, or is there room for improvement? Remember that both parties must invest time in it to make it successful.
If you don’t have a mentor, consider if you could benefit from having one, whatever it is you do. The same thing goes for possible mentors out there. Think about if you have something to share which would be beneficial to someone. It’s good to remember, that both parties will benefit from the journey they do together.
The Meeting of Two Personalities Is Like the Contact of Two Chemical Substances: If There Is Any Reaction, Both Are Transformed.Carl Jung
Let’s learn and grow together,