The Benefits of Having a Mentor and Mentee Relationship, and Why Your Employer Should Support It
Alexandra Whitehead (pictured above with her awesome mentor, Carolyn McManus) offers some insight into the importance of Mentor-Mentee relationships.
Why do I have a mentor?
Over the years I’ve had mentors who are good at asking me the ‘right’ questions, ones which stretch me outside of my comfort zone, challenge my thinking and also my behaviours. It can be a scary process... knowing that you’ve got someone who will keep you accountable! While I’ve had mentors that are psychologists, I’ve also had mentors outside of the psychology industry as well, again to give me a different perspective. These relationships have allowed me to develop lifelong friendships as well as grow both personally and professionally. This thirst for growth is why I have a mentor at all times.
It takes someone special and dedicated to ask the ‘right’ questions, given they can be a little confronting, and it takes someone experienced to guide you through the process of change. So choosing the right mentor is paramount. If I hadn’t had mentors, my best guess is that I’d still be doing what I’m doing, but it would have taken longer, I would have been more stressed and I would have done things at less opportune times. This makes sense – my mentors have ‘been there, done this’. They have shown me the way basically.
What is mentoring?
A mentor is someone who has expertise in a particular area, who becomes your biggest supporter and promotes your career development. They stretch you, but also protect you. Mentees have the ability to enhance their functioning through mentoring, and also the potential to increase their salary and advancement through mentoring. Mentors learn from their mentees, and feel good about helping out the next generation of leaders. Mentoring is not a one way street though, it is an equal relationship of giving and getting for both, and this is something mentees in particular need to be cognisant of. Mentorship also works best though when it has an end point (e.g. 12 months) and specific, achievable goals.
How to get your employer to support you either being a mentee or a mentor
I wish employers would say ‘yes’, because something simply makes sense, but, in reality it’s not always your direct manager that gets to decide on the answer to the questions you seek. They ultimately have a discussion with someone else, where it’s really useful to have return on investment (ROI) examples on hand. Doing this leg work is boring! I know! But so necessary. You can mix it up with qualitative feedback like “Alex’s mentor supported her application for funding, and Be Psyched was awarded $50,000!”. This usually helps. At the end of the day, if you’re a willing mentee and source a great results orientated mentor, it’s going to be difficult for your performance at work remain stagnant!
On the flipside, being a mentor is amazing PR for your company and for you! Imagine having a mentee spruiking you to all of their buddies and people they do business with. The mentor-mentee relationship is really special – both want to see the other one do well.
So get cracking! Think about the specific needs you have, ask people if they know of a mentor that would be good for you and invite them to coffee to see if you’re a good match. If you need more assistance or would like to explore more options, give us a call at Be Psyched and book in for our awesome ‘Career Program’ or ‘Career Coaching’ sessions.