Many office support professionals in the early stages of their careers are actively seeking mentors to help them develop and advance in the world of work. However, these professional relationships are by no means one sided, often offering a range of benefits to mentors and mentees alike.
Despite the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions, many PAs, EAs and office support professionals are still working from home, meaning you may have a little more time on your hands than you’re used to. If you’re an experienced PA or EA with knowledge to pass on, advice to give and stories to tell, why not invest a few hours each week in the learning and development of an aspiring professional?
In this article, we will first define what mentoring is before going on to explore how these relationships can be beneficial to both parties and revealing what it takes to be a good mentor.
Should you seek out the help of a mentor? Are you at a stage where your advice could enhance the career of a less experienced colleague? Read on to find out more about the benefits of mentoring.
What is mentoring?
Mentoring is defined as when a knowledgeable, senior professional offers career guidance and support to a less experienced individual of the same company, network or profession over a sustained period of time. These relationships are usually voluntary and rely predominantly on informal communication and meetings where the mentor offers advice, insights and suggestions for their mentee’s skills development and career progression.
Sometimes, organisations run their own internal mentoring programmes that offer a greater degree of structure than the informal relationships that can strike up between two professionals who meet at a networking event, for example. It is also possible for a mentee’s line manager to become their mentor. However the two come together, the mentoring relationship should be built on a foundation of mutual trust and respect.
The benefits of mentoring
While mentoring offers the obvious learning and development support to the less experienced party, the benefits are great and varied for mentors and mentees alike.
Benefits of being a mentee
The less knowledgeable members of our audience looking for guidance and support can expect the following benefits when they find a mentor:
- Gaining invaluable industry insights
- Learning from the mistakes and successes of an experienced individual
- Receiving practical advice and tips for career and skills development
- High levels of encouragement and support
- Help in defining your goals and ambitions
- Increasing your confidence and ability to make the right decisions for your career
- Development of communication, interpersonal and relationship building skills
- Gaining a greater understanding of how your career path might look
- Increasing the quality and quantity of your professional network
- Enhancing your CV and future job applications
Benefits of being a mentor
Meanwhile, those considering becoming a mentor may benefit from the relationship in the following ways:
- Developing leadership, supervisory and management skills
- A chance to pass on your learnings and shape the profession in your vision
- Further development of your communication and interpersonal skills
- Reinforcing and refreshing your existing skills and knowledge
- Seeing things from a new perspective and learning from your mentee
- The chance to reflect on your own professional development to date
- Expanding your professional network
- Enhancing your CV and future job applications
- A sense of fulfillment and recognition for your achievements and skills
How to be a successful mentor
Like any professional endeavour, mentoring requires effort and commitment from both members of the relationship. Below are a few tips that may help you to become a successful mentor.
- Share your failures as well as your successes. It can be easy to forget that some of your greatest professional learnings will have come from the times you made a mistake or missed the mark. Make sure your mentee knows that even when you get it wrong you can still work on your skills and progress your career. You’ll also be demonstrating the values of resilience and reflection that every good leader must have.
- Set goals and deadlines with your mentee. The relationship between you and your mentee is all about helping them to realise their potential and meet their ambitions. Setting clearly defined and time-bound goals with your mentee will help both of you to stay on track and give the relationship a true sense of purpose.
- Have regular meetings with your mentee. For a mentoring relationship to have maximum impact, meetings should be held regularly. Though you may not be able to meet in person at the moment, video conferencing platforms like Zoom or Skype are a great alternative. If you cannot commit to regular meetings, perhaps now is not the right time to become a mentor.
- Only mentor those you truly believe in. To get the most out of being a mentor, you should only strike up relationships with professionals who you believe have real potential to develop and grow. Make sure to meet with your potential mentee and have an in depth conversation with them about their career and ambitions before committing to the relationship.
Are you ready to become a mentor or a mentee? We want to hear from you. Fill out our short questionnaire by Wednesday 7th April 2021 to take part in our 2021 Mentor Scheme.
I want to be a mentor - questionnaire.
I want to be a mentee - questionnaire.