“If you cannot see where you are going, ask someone who has been there before.”— J Loren Norris
Many of the blockages one may face on the road to success come from thinking they have to do it on their own. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Help is available when you are lacking something, be it resources or skills. One powerful tool that can aid a person to grow is mentorship.
What is Mentorship?
Mentorship refers to the assistance an experienced person, known as the mentor, offers to someone else, the mentee. It’s a learning activity where the mentee develops their skills, abilities and knowledge. A process of coaching, teaching, and supporting another individual to achieve their professional or personal goals.
Mentorship is common in many organisations, such as companies or educational institutions. It usually occurs in one-on-one sessions, but there also can be group activities.
The Importance of Mentorship
Mentorship helps you grow in a specific area by tapping into the knowledge and experience of someone else. Although there are many ways to learn, assistance from a seasoned person in the desired “field” might be the best way. There are many benefits to being mentored and mentoring someone:
Develop skills: when you are new to something, either a field of work, a study or a task, it might take some time to get the hang of things. With the guidance of someone who has already done what you aspire to do, you can reach your goal quicker. You get to fine-tune your skills and have an opportunity to improve. As a mentor, guiding someone helps you stay on track of your abilities. Your desire to help others drives you to continue working on yourself and avoid stagnation. The more you can assist someone, the more experienced you become.
Facilitate networking: mentorship is one activity that allows you to build your social capital. Whether you are a student, an employee or an entrepreneur, being mentored places you in direct contact with someone higher in the field. If you participate in group mentorship sessions, you can meet people with similar interests but different skills. Take advantage of these opportunities to advance in your career or personal life.
Gain new perspectives: experience teaches people the real-life application of things. No matter how book-savvy you may be about a subject, there are some things you won’t know or understand unless you experience them. Someone with practical experience will help you understand how things work in the real world and many unwritten rules, challenges and methods. When you listen to them, you can see things from different angles. You get to have a deeper, broader understanding of things.
Enhance communication skills: communication is key to success, especially in business. Mentorship requires proper communication between the parties involved. The mentee clearly states their goal and expectation, and the mentor transmits the material they are sharing. As different communication styles require different approaches, this deepens communication ability. Both parties improve their communication skills and can apply them to other areas.
Boost self-esteem and confidence: the ultimate goal of a mentorship session is to get better at something. When you reach that goal, you become more confident in your abilities to move forward. You trust yourself to tackle new challenges and are open to new career, professional, or personal opportunities. As a mentor, seeing the growth and success of your mentee, you become more assured of your skills and are willing to work in leadership positions.
Types of Mentorship
As with any kind of educational or training activity, there are many ways to go about mentorship:
One-on-one: this category involves one mentor and one mentee. They can connect through a mentorship program, personal connections, or recommendations. Developing a long-term relationship with the mentee is key to evaluating their progress.
Peer: in peer mentorship, both the mentor and mentee are of similar age, experience, or both. They guide, assist and support each other to reach individual or shared goals. They learn together and hold each other accountable.
Group: here, the mentor works with multiple people. Usually, the mentees have different sets of skills and knowledge, but might be working toward a similar goal. The mentor uses everyone’s abilities to strengthen the group as a whole.
Team: one or many mentors work with a team, usually in the workplace. The team often has people from different positions or roles, so there is great benefit in exchanging experience, knowledge and skills across the different levels of the company.
Virtual: remote work and remote learning are becoming more common nowadays. Thus, it gave place to a new form of mentorship. This category encompasses all the other types of mentorship that happen virtually. You can use different software like PushFar or MentorcliQ to facilitate the work.
As with the new changes occurring due to remote work, there is a learning curve. Nonetheless, with virtual mentorship, people don’t have to miss out on mentorship sessions due to physical absence.
Tips for Successful Mentorship
The ultimate goal of mentorship is for the learning party(ies) to gain knowledge, skills, and experience. Whether you are a mentor or a mentee, keep those in mind for a successful mentorship experience:
- Settle on the expectations of this exchange
- Choose what you want to work on beforehand
- Have a work schedule
- Design a system to track progress
- Determine the role and responsibility of each party
- Openly communicate with each other
- Be open to giving and receiving feedback
What Makes a Good Mentor?
Not every experienced person can be a mentor. The following list will show you what skills and qualities you can develop to become a mentor. If you’re looking for guidance, then see if your potential mentor has these abilities:
- Have the necessary knowledge and experience: you can only share what you possess.
- Listen actively: listening to your mentee will allow you to guide them in the right direction. You will know what their struggles, fears, challenges and aspirations are.
- Be encouraging: support your mentee in their journey. Help them move forward and encourage them when they might feel like giving up.
- Value the mentee: respect and appreciate your mentee.
- Help the mentee develop on their own: allow your mentee to make mistakes and make their own decisions. Help them discover the right way instead of pointing it right away.
- Offer constructive criticism: deliver the appropriate feedback, but don’t look down on them.
- Be empathic: seek to understand your mentee’s feelings and help them manage.
If you ever feel the need to improve, don’t hesitate to reach out to someone. Check if there are mentorship programs available to you either at your school, university, workplace or online. Become a mentor when you feel like others can benefit from your expertise.