Richard Branson, Larry Page and Steve Jobs have all acknowledged the mentors who supported and advised them in their early days. Providing guidance to younger professionals offers the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping a young professional take their first steps onto the career ladder, and who knows where that ladder may lead to. During our busy working lives, taking the time out to mentor can seem hard to justify in terms of ROI, particularly if you are an SME with limited time and resource.
Mentoring doesn’t have to be hugely time consuming however, and it’s much more than simply helping a junior professional to progress their career. A study by Gartner revealed that:
- Employees who mentored were promoted six times more often than their peers who didn’t mentor
- Mentees were promoted five times more
- Employees involved in a mentoring scheme had a 20% higher retention rate than those who didn’t.
So whilst there may be many reasons to justify why you shouldn’t mentor, there are even more to justify why you should:
- Improve your own learning
Flipped on its edge, ‘reverse mentoring’ allows you, the mentor, to gain something from your mentee. Young professionals are often up to speed on emerging technologies, social media and the latest communications tools. In many cases, the mentor can benefit from the mentee’s insight and the relationship then becomes a mutual learning exercise.
What’s more, offering advice and insight to others can sometimes lead to a re-evaluation of your own business strategy. Dave Davis, Senior Systems Engineer, iDirect and the ITP’s Mentor of the Year 2015 agrees, “Without doubt mentoring also helps me. Many a time have I given a piece of advice, or pointed out a different perspective only to think “maybe I should heed my own advice”. It makes you question the norm and constantly look for ways of improving yourself.”
- Broaden your Network
Tracy Costa, a Manager at BT, took part as a mentee. She said: “The ITP mentoring programme gave me access to someone outside of my own network of contacts with the skills and knowledge to help me develop and to think about things in a different way. It’s been really good having someone else there to ask the difficult questions, to make me think about my own values and opinions, but also to have the knowledge to point me in different directions to go and find the answers myself.”
- Develop your own skills
Mentoring requires a set of skills to run a session, engage with the mentee and effectively organise and review his or her development. Some potential mentors may feel they don’t have the experience to be able to guide someone else, but every relationship can open up opportunities and imparting guidance on lessons you’ve learned, or mistakes you’ve made, can be immensely valuable to a mentee. Mentoring brings a new dimension to the skills you’ve acquired and no doubt have been using for some time.
- Build professional networks
The ITP’s mentoring scheme is cross-industry, meaning mentors meet mentees from different businesses. Not only is this mutually beneficial for gaining insights into how other organisations work, but it can build powerful relationships between one company and another where traditionally there may have been little interaction.
Dave Davis concludes “I firmly believe that we have a responsibility to make sure those following up the ladder are supported, encouraged and inspired to be professionals we can be proud of. It’s not a case of ‘why should I mentor’ – it’s a case of ‘why not?”
The ITP has been running a successful mentoring scheme since 2007. To find out more and read case studies visit our website.