If Someone Asks You to Be Their Mentor, Say ’Yes’

If Someone Asks You to Be Their Mentor, Say ’Yes’

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by Jenn Labin

April 22, 2019

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Today, more and more organizations are turning to internal mentoring programs as sustainable and scalable remedies their talent challenges. According to the American Society for Training and Development, 71 percent of Fortune 500 companies offer mentoring programs to their employees.

As organizations large and small discover the power of workplace mentorship to address wide-ranging workforce management issues like retention, leadership development, and diversity and inclusion, successful leaders like yourself will be asked to step forward and mentor others.

Being a mentor may sound daunting, and many first-time mentors express concerns about having enough time or the proper skills to offer value to mentees. What new mentors need to understand is that mentorship is not only good for the mentee, but also for the mentor.

The Benefits Run Both Ways

Intuition suggests the mentee reaps the most benefit from a mentoring relationship, but my experience indicates the benefits truly flow both ways. This is why I strongly encourage senior managers to embrace the mentoring experience. In fact, many of our customers at MentorcliQ require all executives to participate in mentoring programs because they recognize the tremendous gains all parties involved in a mentoring relationship can realize.

For example, MentorcliQ customer Cardinal Health recently won a bronze medal for “Best Advance in Coaching and Mentoring” from the Brandon Hall Group Excellence in Leadership Development Awards. According to the data Cardinal Health collected about its mentoring program, employee engagement and retention increased for both mentors and mentees. Cardinal Health found retention numbers were 18 percent higher for participants in two or more relationships than they were for people who did not participate in mentoring.

Similarly, when Sun Microsystems conducted its own multiyear research on the effectiveness of its corporate mentoring program, the company discovered 25 percent of mentees and 28 percent of mentors saw positive changes in salary grade, compared to only 5 percent of non-participants.

Gain Insight Into Your Own Effectiveness as a Business Leader

Mentoring is an empowering experience. Your strengths become clearer to you as you help your mentee navigate their own challenges. As you prepare to meet with a mentee and through the course of the conversation, your own areas for improvement will also come to light, offering you an unparalleled chance to close those skill gaps.

Gaining insight into yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, and how you’ve played the game is one of the most meaningful benefits you can gain from passing your experience on to another. Few of us ever conduct such in-depth personal assessments in our careers, but mentors commonly report having revelations that deepen their understandings of their talents and roles as executives. This understanding, in turn, can lead to additional growth and change as a mentor moves forward in their own career.

Feel Reengaged at Work

As the common saying goes, “The student has become the master.” In mentoring, this occurs when the mentee starts imparting knowledge to the mentor. Believe it or not, this happens all the time!

Mentors often report that being exposed to the mindsets, strategies, insights, aspirations, and technological prowess of their mentees helps them reconnect to the company and its goals. Mentees can bring a fresh passion and renewed resolve to their mentors, who may be feeling alone and isolated from the daily drive of the bigger business. As a result of the mentor-mentee relationship, mentors often feel more attuned to the pulse of the enterprise.

Mentorship Is a Genuine Opportunity, Not a Time Suck

When a mentoring relationship is effective and both partners hit it off, opportunities are born and networks are expanded. While it’s true that mentorship requires a time commitment from both parties to work, new software platforms and resources can take a lot of the guesswork and wasted time out of partnership implementation and maintenance. This can give mentors and mentees more opportunities to use their time together to explore ways to grow, learn, and expand their impacts within the organization.

With effective mentoring programs, businesses can increase employee retention rates and generate leaders well versed in the culture and expertise of the company. While it may seem that rising stars are the primary focus of mentorship programs, the reality is the mentors themselves are honing their leadership skills, reaping new insights, and rediscovering their passion for work.

Being a mentor can be one of the most rewarding ways to improve your own career, so don’t hesitate to give it a shot when the opportunity presents itself!

Jenn Labin is chief talent and diversity officer at MentorcliQ.