5 Great Reasons to Become A Mentor
Here’s a real chance to contribute, learn and have your efforts rewarded.
By Mark Swartz
Giving guidance to someone junior where you work is helpful. Doing so as a mentor benefits everyone: the mentee, your employer and you.
Are you uncertain about getting involved? Yes it will take up some of your time. And on occasion will test your patience.
Look beyond the obstacles (or lesser excuses). Here are five great reasons for being a mentor to less experienced staff.
1. You Become More Relevant
Let’s start with an appeal to self-interest. The effort you put in to advise juniors makes you more valuable. Not everyone can communicate their insights clearly and inspire others to greater heights.
Employers need experienced workers who can transfer their knowledge effectively. Baby boomers and Gen Xers can distinguish themselves by helping get Millennials (and Gen Z) up to speed.
2. Your Employer Becomes More Competitive
Employers need well-informed and connected workers. It takes more than raw skill or intelligence alone to perform at peak.
Transferring your insights to those who need them most fills in some crucial gaps. Mentees learn how to navigate workplace politics and handle difficult situations. They emerge better equipped to do their current job. Also you aid them in being promotable sooner.
Opening doors for junior staff is another important function of mentoring. You can introduce mentees to others in the organization who might otherwise be inaccessible. This cross-pollination makes it more likely the mentee will find growth within the employer.
All of which adds up to a more competitive workforce. This makes it more likely your employer (and job) won’t fall prey to predatory upstarts.
3. You Gain A Personal Loyalist
Back to self-interest again. At first it may seem you’re doing most of the giving as a mentor. All those tips you’re sharing, and patiently walking through possible solutions to problems the mentee is facing.
But if you do a good job (and are fortunate), your contributions may pay you dividends. Your mentee might want to work for you – and show gratitude by way of devotion – at some point. Or they introduce you to other younger employees who might serve as a future talent pool. Another possibility: should the mentee achieve great success over time, they could publicly cite you as an early influence.
4. You Learn New Things
The more experienced you get, the more of a bubble you tend to occupy. Most of your colleagues are at your level or more senior. If you have people reporting directly to you there may be little chance to engage with them as you could a mentee.
Younger employees have different skill sets and areas of knowledge. Their vocabulary may contain more contemporary terms and phrases. They hang out in places you’re too archaic to visit without being self-conscious.
Mature workers should find themselves a younger mentor at some point. At a minimum they can teach you about using technology and social media in ways you may not have thought of.
5. You Build Your Leadership Abilities
Another plus of serving as a mentor? Practicing your management aptitudes. If you haven’t overseen other staff yet this is a real bonus. If you’re already an experienced leader you’ll have your perspectives challenged.
Being a mentor sets you up as a role model. Mentees will watch you carefully for cues of all kinds. How you articulate your thoughts. What you choose to share or withhold. Evidence of your decision-making processes.
That should encourage you to behave as a leader even if you aren’t yet one officially. Then you can refer to this when applying for internal promotions or external postings that require some managerial experience.
Experiment (But Never Exploit)
Mentoring traditionally pairs two people for the purpose of improving the junior person’s work abilities. But what if you’re a male who’s been assigned a female mentee? Or you identify as non-straight and want to assist other LGBT employees.
Whatever the situation, providing guidance and support will be appreciated. You’ll also feel good for giving back on a uniquely personal level.