Do you want to move your career forward? Would you like to develop your leadership skills as well as help others learn, grow, and improve their skills? Or would you like to find someone who can help you do these things? You can. Through a mentoring partnership.
More professionals these days are actively pursuing mentoring to advance their careers. And whether you're on the giving or receiving end, these types of partnerships can benefit your career.
A mentoring partnership can be rewarding to both people, personally and professionally. It's an opportunity to develop communication skills, expand your viewpoints, and consider new ways of approaching situations. And both partners can advance their careers in the process.
In this article, we'll look at what mentoring is, and discuss the reasons why you might enter into a mentoring partnership. Should you offer to help others, or ask for help from someone – or both? We'll also explain how mentoring differs from other types of professional career development relationships.
Mentoring is a relationship between two people with the goal of professional and personal development. The "mentor" is usually an experienced individual who shares knowledge, experience, and advice with a less experienced person, or "mentee."
Mentors become trusted advisers and role models – people who have "been there" and "done that." They support and encourage their mentees by offering suggestions and knowledge, both general and specific. The goal is help mentees improve their skills and, hopefully, advance their careers.
A mentoring partnership may be between two people within the same company, same industry, or same networking organization. However the partners come together, the relationship should be based on mutual trust and respect, and it typically offers personal and professional advantages for both parties.
Coaches, trainers, and consultants can all help you learn and grow professionally. Mentoring is a unique combination of all of these. Let's explore some of the similarities and differences between mentoring and these other professions.
Coaches help you to explore where you are in your career, where you want to go, and how you might get there. A coach will also support you in taking action to move toward your goal.
Coaches and mentors differ in three main ways. First, a coach is generally paid, whereas your mentor will usually be making a voluntary commitment. This means that you can start working with a coach straight away, and that you can rely them not to cancel sessions because "Something urgent's come up". Finding a mentor can take longer, and even when you do, your mentor may find it harder to keep space in their day for your mentoring appointment.
Second, while coaches tend to guide you in mapping out your future, mentors actually suggest several paths you might take, although the choice of where to go next remains yours.
Beyond that, of course, good coaches are professionally trained and qualified, so you can rely on getting a high-quality service from them. They also bring their experience of helping other people with career and life issues similar to those that you're facing.
Trainers help you learn and develop specific skills and knowledge. They typically set the topic, the pace, the goals, and the learning method. While you will obviously choose courses that match your requirements as closely as possible, training courses, by their nature, start with their own agendas rather than with your situation.
Mentoring, however, can be tailored to your needs. While training is often best suited for gaining knowledge and skills, mentoring can also help you develop personal qualities and competencies.
Becoming a mentor can enrich your life on a personal and professional level by helping you do the following:
A trusted mentor can help you do the following:
It's often the case that, within an organization or a network, there are more people looking for a mentor than there are those offering to be one. A practical solution to this is "mutual mentoring".
Although it is probably useful to have a mentor who has "been there, and done that", you might have to wait a long time for such a person to come along. Instead, why not try working with a less-experienced but willing person, who will still be able to encourage you to think about what you want from your career, challenge you to commit to goals, and help you to review your progress towards them?
If you do the same for them, you have the basis for a strong and mutually-benefical relationship.
Mentoring partnerships can be mutually beneficial and rewarding – on both professional and personal levels. Mentors can develop leadership skills and gain a personal sense of satisfaction from knowing that they've helped someone.
Mentees can expand their knowledge and skills, gain valuable advice from a more experienced person, and build their professional networks. And both partners can improve their communication skills, learn new ways of thinking, and, ultimately, advance their careers.
Mentoring relationships can be mutual, or two-way, with each person being both the mentor of and mentee of the other person. Alternatively, they can be one way only, although an individual may have his or her own mentor while also acting as mentor for others at the same time.
To explore mentoring in more depth, and read our article on Mentoring Skills .
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