Mentoring matters

If you’re stuck in your career, want to build new skills or get an insight into how you could forward, mentoring might be just what you need.

Mentoring

What is mentoring?
Mentoring can be defined as a process where one more experienced individual offers another structured support and guidance to help them progress in their career.  

It can be useful if you’ve been asked to take on new responsibility, are looking to move up the ladder or simply aim to do your job to the very best of your abilities.

Although mentoring is undoubtedly growing in popularity in the corporate world, it’s a very ancient idea. In fact, the word “mentor” derives from Greek mythology and the fundamental principles of good mentoring are universal.  We can think of it as a three-stage process:

1. Exploration
The mentee describes the issue that is holding them back

2. New understanding
The mentor helps the mentee to gain insight into that issue by sharing their experience

3. Action planning
Together, mentor and mentee decide what action needs to be taken.

Having a mentor
When the relationship works, the benefits to the mentee can be huge.  As well as honing their skills and getting better results in their current roles, they can develop more confidence, new openings for networking and learn more about themselves as individuals.

Being a mentor
The benefits for the mentor are perhaps less immediately obvious, but many mentors find the process of using hard-won skills and experience to benefit someone else to be immensely satisfying.  It can also be very instructive to see what challenges face younger workers lower down the corporate hierarchy.

It’s worth bearing in mind that being a mentor isn’t only suitable to those who’ve achieved the absolute pinnacle of their careers. As long as you have skills and knowledge to share (and the time and energy to share them), you can be a highly effective mentor.

Benefits to your company
There are a host of good reasons behind mentoring’s growing popularity.  It can have a tangible impact on staff retention, job satisfaction and morale.  Not only can it make your staff happier; it can also enable them to make more of an impact in their jobs, adapt more effectively to a change and take on new responsibilities with greater confidence.

In fact, many companies find mentoring to be an indispensable part of their professional development offering, along with coaching and more specific training courses.

How the IOP can help
The IOP mentoring service enables members to meet their mentoring needs by finding a suitable mentor or mentee online.   Once you have registered, you will be able to search for an appropriate match, depending on your needs and experience.

Other support
The Institute has also produced the book Working Together to provide more information about mentoring. For a PDF version of Working Together click here (members only). To request a hard copy or large print version of this booklet, email members.careers@iop.org