“Where a wiser and more experienced person helps another to grow and learn.”
We all know stand-out leaders in our industry. They are successful, experienced, well-respected by clients and their colleagues, are sought after for comment and inspire others.
If they are good listeners, challengers and generous with their insights – they could also be the perfect mentor.
Imagine how powerful it can be when these inspiring leaders are connected with other less experienced but talented members of the industry to act as a confidential sounding board on a one-on-one basis.
This is the value of mentoring.
Research and our experience shows that partnering emerging leaders with an experienced independent advisor can help build confidence, clarify goals, enhance leadership skills, improve performance and expand networks. Participants can discuss career plans, workplace challenges and test ideas with someone who has been there done that. They may have faced a similar challenge, navigated through political organisations, dealt with difficult scenarios or built networks that have helped progress their career.
Common feedback from mentees includes:
“It gave me the opportunity to examine my leadership style and to understand better my capability and potential as a manager and a person.”
“I was asked probing questions that challenged my thinking and helped steer my goals.”
“My mentor has given me insights and tips to handling complex situations and changes.”
Mentoring can be useful across all sectors, industries and levels. The 2014-2015 Workforce Management Trend Survey found that companies using mentoring at the recruitment stage can result in higher job satisfaction and performance. While Harvard Business Review has reported the demand for seasoned counsel is quickly growing at the executive level. In a recent report, 84% of CEOs surveyed said mentors had helped them avoid costly mistakes and become proficient in their roles faster. 71% said they were certain that company performance had improved as a result of mentoring.
CommSec recently used the power of mentoring as the focus of their ad campaigns. They show that everyone – even celebrities such as Kylie and Jamie Oliver – can benefit from the guidance of more experienced people. The campaign, The Right Mentor Matters also highlights that the choice of mentor is crucial to the success of the relationship. We absolutely agree. It’s about finding the perfect mentor for each person.
For the organisation, mentoring is a valuable tool to engage, retain and develop talented employees or members. Mentoring can be used to assist in succession planning, improve communication, support diversity initiatives and accelerate career progression.
For many industry groups, the goal is to connect junior members with senior leaders to give them access to strategic thinking, fresh perspectives and insights into the unwritten rules of a successful career in their profession. Better leaders produce better results so there are benefits for both the individual and organisation.
Regardless of the objectives, following best practice guidelines will help achieve an effective program. Here are our top five tips:
- Develop a mentoring culture and identify champions – mentees must feel the program is highly valued by the organisation or association. Get buy in from the top. Design and structure the program carefully.
- Consider qualities of mentors and mentees – think about the selection criteria, skill set and attributes for each group. Train them to help them get the most out of the relationship and drive commitment to the process.
- Match carefully – this is critical. Consider goals, expectations, experience and personality.
- Clarify purpose and expectations – set clear objectives and guidelines at the start.
- Evaluate – measure the effectiveness of the program against objectives. Communicate these results to leaders, managers and participants.
When done well, mentoring can be a powerful unique professional development tool that delivers strong results.