Mentoring in the Workplace – Benefits for Career Development
Fiona is completing her university studies and is seeking a career as a social worker. She needs encouragement to enter the industry, with a reality check of what she can expect once she is working. She recognises the challenges and the professional responsibilities ahead. With the support of a mentor, a trusted counsellor or guide, who will share their knowledge, expertise and experience, it will enable Fiona to develop her abilities, and grow in the job role.
Who is a mentor?
A mentor is an experienced role model and trusted advisor who offers their knowledge and experience, and provides advice to guide and support the mentee during their professional career journey. The goal of mentoring is to assist the mentee to improve themselves through skill and professional development to advance their career. Effective mentoring focuses on the needs of the mentee.
A mentor can be from the same industry, an employee from the organisation, or an industry network group. Importantly, the mentor will require personal attributes that facilitate the relationship, and be well matched to the mentee’s needs and personality type.
How can mentors benefit career development?
The mentoring relationship is built on mutual trust, respect and communication to empower the mentee to progress within their role, and set goals for professional development.
The mentoring journey commences by establishing goals – both long and short-term goals that the mentee sets for him or herself. The long-term goal is the larger goal such as: attaining a job and successfully transitioning into the organisation, or obtaining a promotion. Short-term goals are a series of milestones that form a step-by-step approach to attain the long-term goal. For example, to attain the stated long-term goals, it may entail writing and developing a resume or LinkedIn profile, or assisting with interview skills.
The mentoring process provides support for the mentee’s development that includes:
- examining professional issues that impact on the mentee
- obtaining exposure to new ideas and ways of thinking
- advising on developing strengths and overcoming weaknesses
- guiding professional development and career advancement
- developing new skills and knowledge
- obtaining recognition within the organisation
Although Fiona has completed her tertiary qualification, she acknowledges that she needs to adjust to the world of work, the workplace culture, and develop positive relationships with colleagues. She needs to action the theories learnt during her course into workplace practices. As her course did not address these issues, mentoring provides the opportunity to assist her transition.
The mentoring relationship is not a modern fad. Historically, individuals learnt through older members who passed their knowledge and insight whilst in the workplace. Patiently, the mentor provided the time and energy to serve as the teacher and overseer of the mentee. Mentoring is a fundamental process of human development. The benefits of mentoring are recognised for all parties: the mentee, the mentor, and the organisation.
Crown Coaching and Training have developed an online Mentoring and Development course to support professional practice and high-level performance. The course consists of a core program, and two optional modules to address specific situations.
How can mentoring make a difference?
A mentee may be an inexperienced individual who is seeking to enter the industry, or experienced seeking support to attain a promotion, or to identify their next step. A mentor provides valuable advice and encourages new perspectives, addresses workplace challenges to assist mentees to attain career goals, improve their professional practice with new knowledge and skills, and respond to industry challenges. The mentoring process identifies emerging talent, and encourages continuous improvement through the ongoing relationship with the mentor.
What are the benefits to each party: the mentee, mentor and organisation?
There are many benefits that mentoring brings to all parties: the mentee, the mentor and the organisation.
Benefits to the mentee
- Gain insight and valuable advice to get ahead – The mentor is a sounding board who ‘has been there and done that.’ They guide you to overcome challenges, and move forward in your career.
- Attain new perspectives – Through communication about issues and questions, you learn new ways of thinking to broaden your thinking and practice.
- Develop knowledge and skills – during the mentoring process to progress your career. Where a skills gap exists, a mentee may be advised about studying a recommended training program.
- Improve communication skills – Develop and tailor communication to address a range of audiences.
- Build your network – A mentor can assist you to expand your network of professional contacts.
- Advance your career – A mentor will support you to attain professional goals and overcome obstacles to advance your career.
Benefits to the mentor
Becoming a mentor offers the opportunity to develop professional qualities. These include:
- Gain professional recognition, build leadership skills and self-worth. Your professional standing is validated as you supervise the mentee’s development and career progress. As a mentor, you share knowledge and address personal issues that a mentee experiences.
- Advance your career as you communicate, coach and motivate a mentee. It will signal to the industry and organisation your role in ‘giving back’ to the industry, organisation and mentee. This is a powerful message and important in the business world.
- Improve your communication and interpersonal skills. As a mentee’s background, experience and career level is individual, your communication is tailored to provide relevant information, and develop the relationship.
- Gain new perspectives by listening to the points of view of a mentee as they share their experience and background.
- Gain fulfilment and satisfaction to assist a mentee’s growth and development. As you encourage, support and empower a mentee’s success – it is personally and professionally rewarding.
Benefits to the organisation
- As the mentee and mentor commit to the mentoring journey, it provides a powerful message that the organisation values, and is willing to invest in its members/employees.
- Develop an organisational culture of learning that promotes growth, co-operation amongst staff, high morale, and career development. A mentoring program builds a positive learning community.
- Encourage commitment and loyalty to the industry/organisation as it promotes engagement, retention to reduce turnover rates, and performance. It enables faster induction of new staff that overcomes and minimises early problems that individuals may face.
- Promote desired company behaviours and attitudes that are shared throughout the organisation, creating consistency and professionalism.
There are many benefits in participating in a mentoring program. It provides professional growth and commitment to one’s career, the organisation, and the industry. It is a privilege to professionally and personally share the development of a mentee’s career. You guide the mentee’s career growth from inexperienced to future leader.
Offering wisdom and support is a gift that mentors can make that will influence the mentee’s career and their life!
Further information on the Mentoring and Development program can be obtained from the website or contact Crown Coaching and Training here.
Leah Shmerling is the Director and Principal Consultant of Crown Coaching and Training, and has extensive experience in career development, life coaching, education and training.
Leah is the author of two books in careers and business communication, a former freelance writer for The Age and Herald Sun, and publisher of two accredited online short courses, Mentoring and Development and Foundations in Career Development Practice.
Leah is a professional member of the Career Development Association Australia (CDAA), a Certified Retirement Coach and is Board Certified as a Career Management Fellow with the Institute of Career Certification.