Mentorship: Two Are Better Than One
Mentorship is an important part of any company’s culture. It plays a key role in fostering meaningful relationships within your firm that will develop, fulfill and ultimately retain top talent.
A recent Forbes article by John Kotter said it this way: “The value of a mentor who can help cultivate leadership skills one-on-one in real-time, reduce the anxiety in taking big steps, and focus leaders on achieving their goals – is huge.”
Mentorship has played a huge role in my personal and professional development. I am thankful to have had multiple opportunities to play the roll of both mentor and mentee. From each relationship I learned something different or was challenged in a different way. Todd gave me confidence to pursue my dreams and equipped me with the skills to be able to do it. Sherry encouraged me during a difficult season of my life and was my sounding board during my job search as I graduated college. Kristin, one of the sweet high school girls I mentored after graduation, taught me how to be bold enough to pursue goals, even if they are counter to the status quo.
I am sure you have stories like these, too; those people in your life who slowed down enough to spend time with you and made you who you are today. It is important to foster those types of relationships in a workplace for several reasons:
- A Head Start
A formal mentorship program can shorten the learning curve for new employees. In an effort to make the onboarding process easy and welcoming, many corporations with formal mentorship programs assign new hires a mentor on day one. The mentor acts as an ambassador to the company’s culture and is a resource as the new hire acclimatizes to a new work environment. Ideally that relationship will develop into one that is beneficial to both parties on a deeper level as well.
- Career Planning
The relationship between a mentor and mentee provides an opportunity to discuss the employee’s career goals and offer guidance and development opportunities for the mentee. Individualized attention on an employee’s key career goals is critical to retaining top talent and ensuring that an individual’s unique gifts and passions are fully utilized.
- Leadership Development
Mentorship is a valuable opportunity to develop leadership skills in a casual, non-threatening environment. Mentors have a safe venue to fine tune management and communication skills while building into a more junior employee. And mentees receive specified attention on their career growth and pointed recommendations and resources that will help them advance professionally and/or improve personally.
- Humility and the Pursuit of Excellence
Similar to peer-to-peer friendships, mentorship is another opportunity to take your eyes off yourself. Both mentor and mentee have the opportunity to support one another through encouraging words, sound advice, or hands-on assistance. The mentors are there to celebrate great wins and encourage the mentees when they are struggling. And because mentor relationships are fundamentally established with the expectation of personal growth—particularly for the mentee—mentors and mentees alike have the green light to challenge one another to improve and to pursue excellence at work.
Ultimately, the importance of mentorship (and friendship, for that matter) can be summed up with this simple but profound truth:
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10