The value of mentors: what can we learn from them?

mentoringI was recently having dinner with a very good friend of mine who is an aspiring lawyer discussing the subject of;  is a mentor really necessary for children, teenagers, post-grads and adults. It was a fascinating discussion that caused much debate for hours.

We examined the current world we live in, which is a world that is focused on the things that are new, fast and most innovative — but there was also something to be said about looking back in time and how life has changed through the generations.

We discussed that in society the older generation rarely used coaching or mentorship as a succession plan to their careers, mentors provided newer employees with information and support they really needed to succeed and move up the ranks in an organisation. But the employees who did engage with mentorship saw the benefits of the mentor-employee relationship, thus, the benefits were not just for the employees; generally the company saw some significant engagement benefits as well.

At its most basic, the mentor-protégé relationship is one of information sharing. When the mentor works at the same workplace as the protégé, that means he or she will be able to share details about the way the workplace functions that may have taken the protégé years to figure out. This can enrich the protégé’s understanding of a subject in ways that may not have been possible in the classroom, or help the protégé understand a topic in a way she may not have considered. In short, the additional knowledge helps employees become more well-rounded and think more critically about problems and solutions.

At one point, the mentor was probably in a similar job or a similar position as the protégé, and thus has intimate knowledge of what it takes to move up the ranks. Mentors can be great sources of information on what steps the protégé needs to take to move up in the company and the dynamics of making one decision over another. And since the mentor will also have an understanding of the protégé’s skill set and ambitions, the mentor relationship makes it easier for companies to identify future leaders, or match employees with the right job within the company.

Often, all it takes for an employee to succeed is the knowledge that someone believes in his or her abilities. The mentor-protégé relationship helps to foster that. Managers should be responsible for motivating employees through positive reinforcement, but in the midst of looming deadlines or an excess of work, that can get thrown by the wayside. That is where the mentor relationship — which is often fostered outside of regular work hours — can come in handy, to boost morale when it needs boosting. Another positive thing about mentoring: it’s contagious. When a protégé has a positive mentor relationship, he or she may find ways to mentor others.

In some cases mentorship can often mean more than one person, both internal within the organisation and external and for very difference reason of mentorship, balancing technical and emotional stability.

When employees have a mentor to whom they can turn when they have a question or concern, they do not need to spend a lot of time seeking out the answers to their questions. Mentors may not have all the answers, but they can help you find them. When there’s less confusion about the work at hand or managers have to spend less time explaining a job, a business’ productivity can increase. And since mentoring can improve employee retention, your productivity will further increase because you won’t be constantly re-training employees.

An employee benefits from a mentoring relationship because he has someone with greater knowledge and experience to turn to for advice. While a mentor will not do the employee’s job for him or her, the mentor may demonstrate a task, guide the employee through solving a problem, or critique the employee’s work. A mentorship may help an employee feel less isolated at work, too, and encourage him to interact more with others. A mentor can offer an employee with tips on career growth and introduce the employee to other professionals. As the employee matures in his career, a mentor may remain a valued adviser to the employee.

The employer of a mentored employee gains from greater productivity in the workplace. As employees turn to their mentors for advice, they make fewer mistakes on the job, cutting losses to the employer. Employees in mentoring relationships tend to have greater job satisfaction as well, which can mean a more positive work environment. Employers might also notice less turnover of employees as workers feel a greater loyalty to the company. A company might even use its mentoring program to attract new employees.

Jeff Myers, http://www.summit.org/announcements/new-incoming-president-jeff-myers/, has a great quotation “Mentoring is the cultivation of young adults, the tender caring for and nurturing of them so that they will grow, flourish, and be fruitful.”​

Who are your mentors and most importantly, are you a mentor to our next generation?

One Reply to “The value of mentors: what can we learn from them?”

  1. Another good article & subject Geoff. Good mentors are certainly hard to find although the idea of has always appealed. Not just as a bouncing-board for views but also as a double-check on strategy and moves ++. As I tell my children, you can always learn something from those that have been around the block a few more times than yourself, logical to myself.

    Hope your well, coffee soon
    .
    Best, Darren

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