Mentorships rewarding for all participants

Imagine yourself as you were in your twenties – the early navigation of your professional, personal and life journey; just taking it as it comes and living in the moment! Fun, right? But let’s test that a little.

Time to read: 5 mins

What if, during those carefree days, you could have unlocked a clearer more cohesive view of your own self and “possibilities”, and been talked through them in a way that enabled you to be more deliberate in your choices and avoid some career and organisational missteps? Enter a mentor… 

There is no doubt that well-executed mentorship can be invaluable for those seeking guidance and support in traversing their career pathway. Indeed, when an open and trusting relationship is founded with a mutual objective to set the mentee on a path to success, the journey can be rewarding and beneficial for both parties. 

Informal mentoring happens all around us every day. I’m sure many of us can cast our mind back to a time when we’ve relayed our thoughts out loud with someone, listening their questions and prompts; then wham, we have a “eureka” moment! Something has been unlocked in our minds – some nuggets of clarity emerge. Was this mentoring? Maybe it wasn’t formal but chances are it was, you just didn’t recognise it at the time. 

Now, let’s get something clear: Mentoring is not coaching, although it is often confused with that. Simply put, coaching focuses on tasks, developing skills and achieving performance outcomes. Mentoring is more about using a two-party relationship to gain insights, with conversation, guidance and support to facilitate long-term development. Building confidence and intent in a mentee also supports the sculpting of a more deliberate path to success and fulfilment. 

It's key to select and match “master and apprentice” and the environment in which they look to establish or continue that relationship. 

While there are no rules on who can be a mentor (many successful relationships are peer to peer), they’re typically an experienced individual who has achieved a level of success in their careers. Their professional and personal background and experience supports them serving as a role model, and a source of knowledge and insights. This helps the mentee uncover and realise their own path and potential. It is, after all, their journey.  

Tech industry giants Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates all partnered in mentorships at key points throughout their careers. Steve Jobs mentored Mark Zuckerberg and Warren Buffet mentored Bill Gates. I think we’d be safe in assuming that all parties would have been satisfied with the outcomes. 

These roles often don’t end after the allocated period – in fact they can lead to strong, ongoing relationships. Case in point, Gates and Buffet are reportedly “best friends”, with Gates writing, “Warren has helped us do two things that are impossible to overdo in one lifetime: Learn more and laugh more.” 

Zuckerberg may not have had the opportunity to become long-term best friends with Steve Jobs, but what is obvious is the respect and admiration that he held for Jobs. Upon the latter’s passing, Zuckerberg shared on Twitter, “Steve, thank you for being a mentor and a friend. Thanks for showing that what you build can change the world. I will miss you”. 

The great thing is that you don’t have to be a mega-entrepreneur or even a mini one. You just need two individuals, generally one with a strong experiential knowledge and developed wisdom and another with a desire to uncover how they can become the best version of themselves, growing with direction and purpose. 

Other potential benefits for a mentee are: 

  • Increasing professional self-confidence and self-awareness
  • Access to accumulated knowledge and expertise
  • New insights into own behaviour and practices
  • A sounding board for new ideas and/or working through challenges
  • Increasing work and personal satisfaction
  • Acquiring skills and knowledge
  • Enhancing career development opportunities
  • Expanding networks and increased visibility 

So, how do you choose a mentor?  Find someone who can share insights, will challenge you and has developed a strong reference library of experiences and networks, but above all someone that enables an environment of honesty and trust.  

Why be a mentor?  

  • Leadership: It builds on leadership capabilities through taking the time to listen, guide and allow others to uncover the answers.
  • Learning: Mentees may have more up-to-date insight into the latest practices, trends and techniques – after all, no one knows it all and your protégé could also have valuable insights to share.
  • Perspective: How often do you provide guidance to others, yet don’t readily follow it yourself? Being thoughtful and listening to that guidance is an opportunity to apply a “litmus test” to yourself.
  • Giving back: Take the time to acknowledge your role in someone else’s success and growth and feel the pride and accomplishment of a job well done – now who doesn’t like that feeling! 

If any of this has resonated with you, maybe it’s a good time to “sign up” and become part of something valuable and timeless. 

– For more HR insights and advice, contact our advisors in Auckland, Hawke’s Bay or Taranaki.

DISCLAIMER No liability is assumed by Baker Tilly Staples Rodway for any losses suffered by any person relying directly or indirectly upon any article within this website. It is recommended that you consult your advisor before acting on this information.

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