The Advantages of a Workplace Mentor
Workplace relationships are important for a number of reasons. Consider that you will likely be spending an average of nine hours a day, five days a week with your peers (sometimes more depending on your role), and suddenly you see why it is so important you are able to establish a good rapport with those around you. Moreover, these workplace relationships sometimes lend themselves to a mentee-mentor relationship where you are able to learn from someone in the industry who is not only well-versed in your role and responsibilities, but also how best to succeed and make the most of every opportunity.
What is a mentor?
Officially speaking and according to definition, a mentor is a “an experienced and trusted adviser”. While a very basic definition, it hits the nail on the head: you can’t have a mentor without experience or trust. Mentors can prove to have not only a career-changing, but also a life-changing influence on those who they mentor (known as mentees), and often offer a different perspective based on their own experiences in the industry, whether it’s because they have been in the very role you now fill, or because their experience in—and knowledge of—the industry give them insights and perspective you might not have access to personally.
What are the advantages of a mentor?
While often confused with “coaches”, mentors differ in that the aim of a mentor-mentee relationship is often that it is on-going, whereas a situation where you are being coached is often finite and often revolves around an individual being trained in specific actions or strengths. Mentorships are often broader and are more concerned with a focus on growth and development. In terms of experience, mentors are able to offer their years in the industry along with their own mistakes, lessons and expertise that have all led to the successes they’re able to enjoy as a result. These learnings (whether as a result of a mistake they had to learn from or their own personal insights and growth), can guide and inform mentees that can assist in streamlining their career path. As far as trust goes, mentors are able to offer you their thoughts and perspective in a safe space where your growth and development is not only prioritised, but also respected. This means that in the event that you are unsure of something, for example, instead of grappling with it alone for fear of being shamed, you will have someone to not only approach and confide in, but also to guide you into a better work-related state of mind.
How to approach someone to be your mentor
80% of CEOs have admitted to having mentors and so it’s not hard to understand why career-driven individuals wish to learn from and be mentored by someone with the wisdom and experience they aspire to possess one day. Identify your mentor first by ensuring they’re in a role that you wish to one day fulfill; take the next step by setting up a meeting where you can ask if they would be interested in mentoring you. Email might feel like the easy way out, but you will find in most instances that asking to be mentored will be a positive experience for both you and your potential mentor. Should this person agree to guide you, it is then up to you to take their advice and insights—don’t be resistant when they have suggestions or feedback regarding your own mistakes and insights—remember that your mentor has been there before and if they’ve agreed to be your mentor it is in their best interest to do right by you and offer fair and constructive guidance.
A mentor will not only assist you in making some of the best career decisions of your life, but you will soon experience that their presence in your life also allows you to manage any concerns you have about your career. If you find the right mentor and enjoy the benefits of such a relationship, you too will one day see the value in mentoring someone else (and it doesn't get more rewarding than that).