Mentoring matters. Its not just a business buzz word.
Having a mentor is seriously good news for your career. 75% of executives surveyed said mentoring played a key role in their career advancement[i]. 44% of CEOs say that mentoring programmes are one of the most effective strategies to help women manage their progress up the management ladder. Managerial productivity increase by 88% when mentoring is combined with management training, as opposed to 24% for just training alone. 77% of companies report that mentoring is highly effective for employee retention. Speaking from experience, the best mentor / mentee relationships are medium to long term, have 2-way value and good chemistry. Here are a few tips to get the best from mentoring.
- For mentees: listen! You may not always agree with them but your mentor has more experience than you so listen to what they have to say and consider their advice carefully. Be respectful of their time. Be on time for appointments! Try an “upfront contract” before you meet. Ask them how long they have available and whether there is anything they would like to discuss with you. Then add your own talking points if you have any. Personally, I like time to think about difficult issues in advance. If you are having coffee, offer to pay or split the bill. Just because someone is more senior than you doesn’t mean they have cash to spare. Basic courtesies will send you a long way.
- For mentors: think not what can you do for your mentee but what can your mentee do for you? Don’t download or ramble about your own career. Listen carefully and encourage your mentee to think out loud to solve problems. Do give advice where requested but remember that the mentee is ultimately responsible for their own career. Keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities for your mentee in your firm. Benefit from the relationship by using the time together to stay plugged into what is happening in your firm, and for example, the latest trends in social media. Do keep your conversations confidential. Have some fun.
- For companies: do encourage, promote and allow mentoring schemes. Actively reward your leaders for spending time developing others. Ensure the mentoring relationship is allowed to develop naturally and be sustained over a long period. I was involved with one scheme where HR thought the relationship should last for 6 months before being changed up. Utter madness. Have a formal programme where those who would like a mentor can be paired up with someone. Listen to your mentors if they make a recommendation about a member of staff. Use the scheme to make sure they right people are in the right jobs and retain happy, productive employees.
[i] All data from the American Society of Training and Development 2012