Ever feel overwhelmed by your workload in the office, or just generally in need of some guidance? Well, that is precisely what mentoring is all about — a more experienced leader who can help guide you to the path of success.
Mentoring makes a difference
Mentoring allows mentees to have a more expansive view of their potential. It is not just about teaching, it is about listening, advising, modeling successful workplace behavior, and helping people meet their potential. Mentors can help their mentees to find success in their present job as well as to find their way to their chosen career goals. And mentoring can be especially useful for women who, a study shows, gained more social capital from affiliations with a high-status mentor than their male counterparts did.
Why mentoring works
Mentorships advance careers. The proof is in the pudding. A study in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that people with mentors are more likely to get promotions.
When mid- and senior-level executives choose to mentor people, they are able to help ascend those lower-level people to places and opportunities that they would otherwise never have access to. Mentorship also exposes both parties to new ideas and perspectives. Arlene Kaukus, the director for career services at the University at Buffalo, said to The New York Times that she believed that was becoming more and more important, as workplace demographics continue to change.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2024, less than 60 percent of the workforce is likely to define itself as “white non-Hispanic.” Latin people could comprise 20 percent of the labor force in 2024. The proportion of African-Americans in the workforce is also projected to rise, to 12.7 percent in 2024 from 12.1 percent in 2014, and the proportion of Asians to 6.6 percent in 2024 from 5.6 percent in 2014.
“The importance of being able to see things from different people’s points of view based on their life experience, their culture, their ethnicity, their gender, becomes even more important,” Kaukus said. Mentorship can help with this.
What’s in it for the mentors?
Mentorship should not be paternalistic, but reciprocal. Especially because there is so much to learn from the younger generations. The ability to support and offer opportunities should ideally go both ways between mentor and mentee. You can learn from those that you mentor. It is also a way to pay forward the mentorships that the mentor may have gotten earlier on in their own career.
Why are mentorships effective?
Effective mentors cultivate key traits in their mentees. “The mentors that our girls love the most are the ones that are great listeners, that see their potential and are willing to support them, come hell or high water,” Jenni Luke, chief executive of the national teen mentorship organization StepUp, told The New York Times. “If I’m not sharing with you the specific experiences that have helped shape my opinion on how to do things, then I’m not really helping you.”
Clarity and communication are important as well. Know the concrete goals that you are working toward. Be clear as to what you are hoping to gain, and let your mentor know which goals you have.
There is really no right way to seek or engage a mentor. It is just important to have one. Each mentoring relationship is unique. Let the relationship evolve based on everyone’s time constraints and the way that the communication works best for the two of you. Be as clear as you can be about your professional interests and goals. Be open and honest and willing to learn and be guided, and if you are, the sky’s the limit.
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