The Benefits of Mentorship and the Qualities of Great Mentors & Mentees

The Benefits of Mentorship and the Qualities of Great Mentors & Mentees

    In both our professional and personal lives, it is beneficial to develop our skills, learn new things and challenge ourselves on a regular basis. However, despite best intentions, many things can get in the way of our own self-development efforts.

    Having someone who can help guide, advise and coach us towards a set of goals is a powerful way to stay on track. Many successful entrepreneurs and business leaders attribute at least part of their professional success to having a mentor.

    What is a mentor?

    A mentor is someone with more experience, who helps and guides another individual’s development. This may be to help do a job more effectively, develop a specific skill and/or progress in their career.

    A mentor can provide a wealth of knowledge and be a sounding board, giving ideas and recommendations based on their own experiences. They share inspiration and encouragement, as well as being able to offer networking and connection opportunities.

    Mentorship is one of the most rewarding professional activities you can be involved in, and mentors can get as much or more out of the experience than those they are mentoring. Developing this relationship can help both mentor and mentee learn new things, build their networks and grow as professionals. Understanding these benefits can help you decide whether to find a mentor or perhaps become one.

    Our Founder and CEO, Denise Baxter, has been involved with the University of Dundee’s Leadership Plus programme for the past two years.
    Having experienced the value of being able to access mentors on her own career journey, she is passionate about continuous learning and self-development, as well as encouraging and empowering others.

    Read more about the programme, Denise’s mentorship role and how you can sign up to become a mentor here.

    The many benefits of mentorship

    Mentoring is a fantastic growth tool with the power to accelerate our self-development, progression and overall confidence.

    While we typically think of mentorship as a way to increase career preparation and advancement, its many benefits go far beyond:

    • Creates stronger ties between people and can break down barriers of gender, culture, ethnicity and age, thus supporting diversity, equity and inclusion.
    • Has been shown to work better than diversity training and networking in increasing the number of women and minority leaders in management.
    • Can be the voice of encouragement when someone is worried about failure, helping the mentee keep or regain perspective and focus productively on the next steps on their pathway.
    • Is a powerful way to build effective, innovative, competitive organisations by bringing the right people together for the right conversations that can bring positive change.
    • Enables the cross-pollination of knowledge, ideas, culture and new best practices, building both general and specialist knowledge.
    • Hones leadership, decision-making and critical thinking skills.
    • Creates valuable ways for mentees to get exposure to opportunities aligned with their interests and capabilities.
    • Provides a way for people to connect with others they may not have access to otherwise and creates opportunities to build partnerships.
    • Inspires action toward purpose and goals.
    • Reduces barriers to success by ensuring people have the inspiration, support, knowledge and know-how to meet their goals.

     

    The qualities of a great mentor

    Not all mentors are exactly the same but there are a few characteristics common to all great mentors. Here are our top 6.

    1. Relevant expertise or knowledge

    Of all the traits to look for in a mentor, this one usually matters most. A mentor should be able to help propel you forward because they’ve been there, seen the landscape and know what it takes to be successful. Having that commonality is really helpful because that’s usually what can bring the relationship together and make it successful.

    2. Passionate about helping others

    Helping others requires a mentor to be humble and thoughtful. The best mentors give advice because they genuinely want others to benefit from the wisdom they’ve learned through the course of their own journey. They are invested in the growth and development of their mentee and find genuine joy in helping others.

    Great mentors constantly work to improve themselves too and are usually life-long learners.

    3. Can identify needs and strengths

    Everyone has unique strengths and weaknesses. A good mentor understands this and works to learn what makes their mentee tick. While you most likely have an understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses, it's helpful to hear what someone else thinks. A great mentor knows how to build your weaknesses and expand your strengths so you can fill important skills gaps.

    4. Can listen reflectively & empathise

    A good mentor should be curious and ask questions more often than simply telling their mentee what to do. They don’t impose their own beliefs or ways of approaching things on others, but instead take the values and input of the mentee into account over their own.

    5. Able to give honest and direct feedback

    It's tough to give honest feedback and requires strong communication skills and a level of openness that not many people are comfortable with. While a mentor can be a cheerleader at times, their role is to make their mentee better – not just make them feel better.

    Finding someone who is respectful is key, but so is finding someone who will give you some tough love when you need it. A good mentor knows how to deliver feedback in a way that’s constructive, kind and direct, and doesn’t shy away from being honest because they’re afraid of hurting your feelings. You’ll make better decisions and come out stronger with someone like that by your side.

    6. Well connected with strong relationships and networks

    Regardless of age or experience, mentors should have a strong network and be well connected to relevant people, thus be able to make valuable introductions and recommendations. A good mentor has invested time in developing solid relationships and is willing to bring the mentee into their close circle. This can help expand the mentee’s network and open up opportunities not otherwise accessible.

    The qualities of a great mentee

    Mentorship is a two-way street and being a mentee requires more than just showing up to meetings with a mentor.

    Here are 4 key qualities for mentees that will ensure they maximise the time with their mentor, leading to a successful mentorship.

    1. Ability to steer the relationship 

    Mentees should be clear on what they hope to get out of the mentorship, and drive conversations and interactions. They should attend each session with questions, specific requests for advice and proposed topics of conversation. The more specifically they can articulate their expectations and objectives, the more likely they are to receive the best possible guidance.

    2. Being mindful and respectful

    By being on time, prepared for meetings and professional, mentees can show they value the time and effort mentors are providing.

    3. Taking and giving constructive feedback

    Mentees should respond to feedback - both positive and negative - with openness, since this is ultimately useful information intended to help with growth and future success. Similarly, they should be prepared to give their mentors the same candid feedback. This assures that both parties are learning from each other.

    4. Following through and taking action

    After getting suggestions, recommendations, introductions etc, mentees should follow up with the appropriate actions and be prepared to give updates at subsequent meetings. This helps validate the work and effort on the part of the mentor, and continues the good rapport within the mentoring relationship.

    Final thoughts…

    Mentorships build the foundations and support mechanisms that people need to succeed during periods of change, challenge and adaptation. They are more important than ever in these transformative times when ways of working and connecting have changed and evolved.

    When the mentor and mentee are a strong match and each understands their roles, the mentorship will develop into a hugely valuable relationship.

    The benefits of mentorship are far reaching, ultimately reducing barriers to success by ensuring people have the inspiration, support, knowledge and know-how to meet their goals.

    For any advice on finding or being a mentor, or setting up a mentorship programme within your organisation, please contact our friendly team on 0131 385 0379 or email us at Theteam@Identify-hr.com