The Importance of Mentorship and Why Starting Early Is Key
It is no secret that life has become so hectic and harried these days that people don’t even have time to breathe properly. Most try to amass as much money as they can in order to immunize themselves from the vicissitudes of life. They work day and night to gather as much wealth as possible and forget that they’re just human beings. In a world of rampant consumerism, it is pretty easy to get caught up in it. By looking within for what we need, to answer the world’s challenges and learning to detach from outcomes, we can much more effectively navigate the turbulent waters of the 21st century. As it’s often said, people want change, but they don’t want to change themselves. It seems like such an impossible project to take on in the midst of our busy lives.
Did you make career-related New Year’s resolutions? Are you resolved to boost your career and move forward professionally in 2022 and beyond? If so, you should consider an underutilized, but incredibly powerful professional growth tool: Mentoring. Whether you are the mentor or the mentee, the mentoring relationship can push your career to new heights.
Mentorship has a long history
The term mentor comes from the character, Mentor in Homer’s Odyssey. This character was the companion of Telemachus, Odysseus' son and gave him guidance and advice while he was away from his home and family.
Going back to antiquity the purpose of a mentor is to take all the experience that they’ve accumulated throughout their career and life and transfer it to their mentee for their benefit.
Mentorship Can Feel Intimidating - But It Shouldn’t
The word mentorship may bring to mind images of Karate Kid and Mr. Miyagi, or Luke Skywalker and Yoda. These images can make mentors feel like they have large shoes to fill (or small ones in Yoda’s case.)
If you’re a mentee, you may feel like you have to open up about all your challenges and failures. The point is, mentorship can feel intimidating. But it doesn’t have to feel that way.
Benefits of mentoring
The benefits of mentoring are myriad. For individuals, studies show that good mentoring can lead to greater career success, including promotions, raises, and increased opportunities. The truth is that effective mentoring takes effort, and creating successful mentoring relationships requires specific skills, sensibilities, and structure from both the mentor and the mentee. Success happens when both parties take responsibility for making it work. Under those circumstances, having the guidance, encouragement, and support of a trusted and experienced mentor can provide a mentee with a broad range of personal and professional benefits, which ultimately lead to improved personal performance.
What is a mentor?
A mentor is someone who acts as an advisor to a less experienced individual, known as their mentee. Typically, individuals seek mentors who work in their same or desired field. The mentor helps this individual grow and develop as a professional, often offering advice based on their more advanced knowledge or experience. Mentorship relationships can be built through networking, personal connections or formal mentorship programs.
Mentors encourage and enable another person's professional or personal development.
A mentor can help focus their efforts by setting goals and giving feedback. As a result, companies that want to build employees' skills often create mentoring programs. The mentors' knowledge can help train and create a high-quality and productive workforce. Employees appreciate workplaces that encourage development, as it can demonstrate that their employer values them and wants to see them grow.
Mentors can also provide specific insights and information that enable the mentee's success.
For example, they offer instructions on how to perform particular tasks or develop useful skills. Individuals starting their career can benefit from such guidance, as it helps them feel comfortable in the role more quickly. For example, a mentor can help a person starting a business learn how to develop their initial business plan and budgets.
Validate the mentor’s leadership skills
Being put in the position of a role model can help mentors become better leaders and instill confidence in their leadership ability. The responsibility of helping guide someone’s career and goals requires the senior employee to teach, motivate and offer honest feedback in difficult conversations. All these skills are at the top of the required list for a leader.
Being a mentor boosts interpersonal skills among many beneficial reasons. Your interactions with a mentee offer numerous opportunities to practice and build interpersonal skills, such as communication, active listening, empathy and patience. Communication is especially essential to mentorship, as you may meet regularly to discuss the mentee's goals, ideas or concerns and provide instructions or advice. Beyond mentorship, having strong interpersonal skills can help you develop relationships and collaborate more effectively.
The specific benefits of a mentorship relationship include: career advancement, including a higher rate of promotion; higher salaries; increased productivity and better time management; greater success in achieving external research grants; personal and professional development, including increased job-related wellbeing, self-esteem and confidence, and better work-life balance; and developed networking skills.