Five Steps to Initiate Mentoring: It’s Tricky

I believe mentoring is better when done every day in real time. I try to be a good role model and set the example. If a person could do better, let him or her know at the moment and not once a month. Mentoring is constant. We have a very diverse staff. When you bring people from different backgrounds and different perspectives and you work together, you can make better decisions, and the performance shows in the results. My key role is to continue to develop future leaders.” – from Debra Reed, CEO of Sempra Energy San Diego Magazine

LinkedIn surveyed more than 1,000 female professionals in the United States and 82 percent agreed that having a mentor is important, but nearly 1 out of 5 women responded they have never had a mentor. Most people understand the importance of mentoring but what’s the secret?

How do I find a mentor? For women, it’s proven that things like networking are a challenge. We don’t like to do it. Creating a conversation with someone out of thin air is not an easy task. Then consequently, we have to then find the time to devote to maintaining those relationships.

Some may not see the value in it or may not be able to find the time to give someone else, but mentoring can be one of the most beneficial relationships in business and in life. It is a powerful tool that not only young employees can learn from but also CEOs, and upper management. Research found that people who are mentored and sponsored report having more career success, such as higher compensation, a greater number of promotions, greater career and job satisfaction, and stronger career commitment.

In the past, mentoring has typically included an upper management individual mentoring a young employer. Although this is quite successful, it is not always the case today. As technology has grown, many companies are doing reverse mentoring. In an article written in 2011 by the The Wall Street Journal, says that younger employees are being paired with upper management to get caught up on the latest technology. This might sound strange, but this practice proved to reduce turnover in the younger employees and gave them a sense of purpose and insight to top management positions. On the flip side, it has given upper management more respect for the young employees as they share their knowledge and expertise. Mentoring is a path to self-discovery not only for the person being mentored but also the person who is doing the mentoring. You may be surprised when beginning to mentor someone how much you actually find out about yourself.

Everyone can learn something from one another, regardless of age, position, or gender. Just because you are a female does not mean you have to have a female mentor. A study done by USA Today back in 2009 surveyed CEOs and found that thirty-three out of the thirty-four women said a man was their most influential mentor in their career.

Don’t be afraid to mentor someone.  After all, someone is reaching out for help, so be excited that you may be a strong influence on someone else’s career. Here are five steps to begin the process of mentoring:

  1. Say “YES” when someone invites you for a coffee or lunch meeting.

  2. Be open and honest.  Share your story.

  3. Don’t be sexist. Although you are a female, having a male mentor is okay too.

  4. Be personal. Everyone has a story to tell.

Share contact information to then pick up the phone to check in. In summary, mentorship is often a more reciprocal relationship than most people recognize, especially in situations where people are working for the same company. Mentee may receive valuable assistance, but mentor receives value too, including a diverse point of view, greater communication from colleagues, and a sense of pride and fulfillment. If a mentee/mentor relationship is done right, everyone benefits. If you don’t have a mentor or mentee reach out and find one TODAY!

Share your own mentor/mentee story with us by commenting below.

Contributed by: Grace Herron, IWL Intern

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