Executive mentors can have a lasting effect on those just entering the field. As a mentor, you share valuable skills, knowledge, and insights to those you mentor and help them develop their careers. Find out how an online Executive MBA program can have a positive impact on mentoring in your professional career.
Understand That Training Is Essential
In organizations without mid-level management, employees often take on larger, challenging roles without training or assistance. Talented managerial professionals can move around the organization and gather experience, but they may not receive the luxury of time or guidance to help them reflect on their work.
Such fast-paced advancement can be exciting but overwhelming, leading to frustration and burnout. To prevent the latter, Dorie Clark, writing for Forbes, says that mentoring relationships can help employees adapt and learn with greater efficiency and support. Thorough mentoring is frequent and includes sponsoring, guiding, counseling, teaching, modeling, and motivating.
Why should you care about these concerns as a manager, especially if you are busy with bigger issues? Take a moment to consider how being a mentor will help you with your own career goals. From a company perspective, mentoring is an excellent way to transfer valuable skills from one person to another. This knowledge transfer broadens available competencies, builds strong teams, and helps form a stable pipeline of succession.
Learn By Doing
Malcolm Gladwell, author of "Outliers," observes that the key to mastering any task is to put in 10,000 hours of practice. The most effective mentors also improve their own leadership abilities.
As you help those you mentor, you have the chance to reflect and articulate on your own expertise and experience — something you probably don't take time to do otherwise. In a teaching mode, you'll also begin to recognize patterns, gain new insights into previous situations, and increase your own awareness and efficacy. Sharing knowledge is a powerful way to hone your own strengths.
If you want to improve your networking skills, make introductions. Introduce those you mentor to your network and meet members of your mentees' own networks as well.
Take a moment to think about the feelings you have for your own mentors. You most likely feel deep gratitude, admiration, respect, and loyalty toward them. If any of them called you with a request, you would probably respond and do your absolute best. These relationships transcend time and distance, and perhaps nothing can ensure continued opportunities more than a strong, loyal network of industry contacts.
Gain New Perspectives
Mentoring also gives you a window into the company's functions, politics, and culture. You may, for example, gain new insight into the work needs and career mentalities of people from disparate generations or backgrounds — such as the differences among baby boomers, millennials, and Generation X employees.
Many mentors report feeling personally satisfied and fulfilled by their mentoring experiences, not to mention an increase in positive work relationships. As counterintuitive as it may seem, if you're feeling overwhelmed, burned out, or cynical, mentoring can give you and your career a much-needed injection of fresh energy.
Share a Sense of Personal Responsibility
Remember, successful mentoring is a shared task. You aren't exclusively responsible for creating a fruitful relationship. Those you mentor need to be honest, flexible, and open to feedback and critique. They must be willing to proactively pursue their goals, invest their time in continual learning, and address needed changes on their part.
Mentees also must be willing to give you feedback and share what is or isn't working well in the relationship. Mentors and mentees need one another, and when both parties share responsibility for their parts of the relationship, opportunities for learning and career growth can flourish.