Should You Have a Mentor?

Posted on: 19 Sep 2018

Many greats of our time wouldn’t be where they are today without a mentor leading them through the dark.

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” — Isaac Newton

Mentors help build dynamic organisations with sustainable futures, staffed by passionate and motivated new talent.

And they can change lives. By helping people grab out-of-reach opportunities, mentors can unlock exciting new beginnings for the next generation.

As business mentors ourselves, we wanted to find out how the rest of the community values this source of coaching and exactly what benefits mentoring can proffer gifted individuals.

Here’s what we discovered, with thoughts from renowned business leaders in the Manchester area. Read on to learn how mentoring can be instrumental in shaping your future.

Which Mentoring Approach is Right for You?

Before we get stuck into the benefits of mentoring, let’s discuss the different approaches.

Adam Mitcheson is the CEO and founder of My2be. He created a cloud-based platform that connects mentors and mentees internally within an organisation and externally to a wider public network.

He explained to us that there are different mentoring opportunities for a variety of situations. Here are the approaches My2be takes:

Senior-to-Junior

The most traditional form of mentoring: a senior person supporting a junior. This is a great set-up. The mentor has vast amounts of experience that they can share with someone starting out. Even the Wall Street Journal is using this approach.

They can help facilitate succession plans and identify top talent at an early stage.

It also makes reverse mentoring possible. The senior mentor can learn from the junior person about new technologies and what is happening at the ground level of the organisation. This information can be fed back to improve business processes.

Peer-to-Peer

This type of mentoring allows people to connect with those within their own peer group, learning from each other and their experiences.

Being mentored by someone in a close vertical will give greater insight into the immediate requirements needed in order to progress.

For example, a recent graduate will have a better understanding of graduate schemes than a senior executive. They can offer much more relevant advice to a student interested in graduate schemes within a business.

Internal and External

My2be is the only mentoring platform that works both internally within an organisation and externally to a wider public network.

By connecting to the wider network, mentees get comprehensive support for all their professional and personal needs.

This also facilitates the creation of the talent pipeline, opportunities for multiple mentors and the ability to learn from different perspectives.

Multiple Mentors

Multiple mentors are never a bad idea. It allows mentees to gain different perspectives on their situation. Helping them determine the best next steps and increasing their chances of succeeding.

Mentors from both immediate verticals and unrelated channels is a recipe for innovative ideas, creative opportunities and a 360-degree view of the business.

As you can see, each approach has its own gains. The choice depends on your individual needs. What does progress look like for you? Speak with a manager or prospective employee to find out what opportunities are available.

Career-Boosting Benefits

The value of business mentors is widely recognised. It’s why industry leaders, such as Google, Intel and Time Warner Cable are investing in cutting-edge mentoring software and programmes. It’s why 71% of Fortune 500 companies offer mentoring programs to their employees.

“Millennials who are planning to stay with their employer for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor (68%) than not (32%),” says Megan M. Biro of Forbes.

Putting it simply, many companies are eager to help you and will give you the very best mentoring to ensure you succeed in the business meaning you can rise through the ranks with ease as a vital member of staff.

Suitable for Every Next Step

Dave Harrison, managing director of CO-Creation – a business performance-enhancing consultancy – tells us how mentoring can be beneficial to employees at various levels:

“People find mentoring useful in a whole range of situations. For instance, when making the transition to a new role. Or when new employees require guidance through the intricacies of working in a new organisation. The power of mentoring is that it creates a unique opportunity for collaboration and problem-solving.”

Dave also believes having multiple mentors is worth its weight in gold:

“I would always encourage people to consider having more than one mentor to help them with different aspects of their job. For example, one for leadership and another for the more technical aspects of their role. Having multiple mentors can help you accelerate your career. ”

Increase Your Chances of Succeeding

Mentors love watching you progress. Like Una Cottrell, founder of Authentic. She explains how rewarding being a business mentor can be:

“Working with your mentee, suggesting strategies they need to follow and then watching their progress and ultimate success. That’s what makes mentoring so worthwhile.

“It benefits you on a personal and professional level. Personally, there is the boost to your self-esteem.

“On a professional level, you receive insights into an organisation from a unique viewpoint. This is highly illuminating and something of a ‘reality check’ in being witness to issues at entry-level employment, which you may not ordinarily experience.

“And, for me, the greatest reward is a new friendship based on mutual respect.”

As Cottrell highlights, a passionate mentor dedicated to their role will provide second-to-none support integral to your success.

A Shortcut to Fulfilling Your Potential

John Shinnick, managing director of Shinnick Change, explains how mentoring “is a bit like walking up a moving escalator. It will move you on at a faster pace than your own efforts. You’re still pulling your own weight, but you’ll never lose sight of what’s around you.”

He also reveals his experience of being a mentor to shed light on what mentees can expect:

“When I mentor, I spend most of my time storytelling and analogising.

“You are guiding your mentee through the maze of professional or personal issues by relating your experience. But leaving enough in the bag so that the mentee has to rise to the challenge and learn from the process. Otherwise you are just telling them what to do.”

Shinnick also explains how to find a mentor:

“You probably know them already … or know of them. They are the people that have given you or the people around you the time of day. They are less judgemental than your other peers.

“And they have a plethora of experience: it doesn’t just equate to being older. You can pack a lot into your life before you are 30!”

International business coach, trainer and speaker, Martin Murphy, agrees that mentoring can speed up your career progression:

“Mentors are essential in the fast-track development of your career unless you want to spend years learning the hard way. They are a catalyst for growth and have been around long enough in the same field to exhibit mastery and wisdom.”

He goes on to reveal how “good mentors” operate:

“They do four things really well. They listen more than they speak. They ask smart questions. This enables them to summarise your incoherent rambling incisively and bring clarity to your situation quickly.

“They also have the humility to know that even with all their intuitive insight, the world is forever changing. And they are willing to let you find some answers for yourself.”

Have Your Say

Have you been a mentee before? We’d love to hear your story. Follow us on Twitter and share your experiences – let’s continue the conversation about mentorships in business!

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