Mentoring continues to prove its benefits in any economy, reinforcing personal and professional growth for both mentee and mentor. “The demand for mentoring has increased because there is a strong business imperative for investing in it,” says Dr. Lois J. Zachary, Director of the Center for Mentoring Excellence, a division of Leadership Development Services. http://www.centerformentoringexcellence.com
Zachary cites many ways that mentoring helps organizations and employees establish common ground and work together to develop and achieve their goals, and here are a few of them.
“Mentoring drives recruitment of future talent. While Boomers are exiting the workforce, another door has opened and almost 80 million Millennials are in or entering the workforce. Having a mentor is a fundamental element to leadership success.
“Mentoring contributes to increased retention rate of talent. Almost all successful professionals attribute their success, in whole or in part, to the mentors who have supported their growth and development. When you feel that someone has a vested interest in your success, you are more likely to tough out the hard times and work through difficult issues. And in tough times, that safety net that mentoring offers becomes even more valuable.
“Mentoring builds and strengthens the company’s talent pipeline. There is more pressure than ever to encourage everyone to accelerate their results, especially in times of significant change and uncertainty and even more urgency to get high performers in gear as quickly as possible. Mentors provide road maps and models for fast tracking learning and avoiding missteps that often short circuit results.
“Without mentoring, knowledge is unevenly distributed. Some information is known by some people. Other information is known “in pockets.” Knowledge silos contribute to lack of alignment and make it difficult for leaders to make effective decisions. Mentoring can break down silos and expand the knowledge base.
“Mentoring promotes diversity and inclusion by giving everyone an opportunity to learn and benefit from the diversity within an organization. Diverse perspectives and opinions get heard, are better understood and are more widely valued. While differences can spark mistrust, mentoring builds trust in relationships, in teams, across departments, and business units. Boundaries and borders, and territorialism diminish where mentoring flourishes.
“When someone is moving to a new position, assigned a new set of responsibilities, or takes on a new leadership role, a mentor can help them make a smoother transition, and avoid common pitfalls - ensuring continuity of competence in times of changing roles.
‘One of the most powerful benefits of mentoring is its contribution to promoting a more connected, engaged, aligned and productive workplace. Mentors can help mentees better understand and commit to organizational goals, rather than work on personal agendas. An organization’s investment in mentoring builds loyalty. When you know your organization cares about you, your work, your contribution and your career, you pay back the investment with conscientiousness, commitment and extra effort. Mentoring strengthens teams and encourages employees to contribute new ideas that will help the organization and themselves grow.”
The definition of mentoring varies among cultures and individual relationships. “The word mentor might be related to a teacher, supervisor, or expert in another cultural context. “I think what surprises so many people is that there are so many (almost 500) definitions of mentoring currently at play.”
Zachary adds that “the biggest surprise is that mentoring takes work for both the mentor and mentee to get it right and that the relationship is a reciprocal partnership. Both partners gain expanded perspectives and insights, not just the mentee.”
As we look forward to a new year and new opportunities, consider the potential rewards – for yourself and your organization – of mentoring.
Note: January is National Mentoring Month in the U.S. For resources on mentoring: http://www.leadservs.com/toolkits.php