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 Personal Assistants (PAs), Executive Assistants (EAs) and office support professionals are still working from home, meaning they may have a little more time on their hands than they’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
- Getting high levels of encouragement and support
- Receiving help in defining goals and ambitions
- Increasing confidence and ability to make the right career decisions
- Developing communication, interpersonal and relationship-building skills further
- Gaining a greater understanding of how their career path might look
- Increasing the quality and quantity of their professional network
- Enhancing their 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
- Passing on skills and shaping the profession in their vision
- Developing communication and interpersonal skills further
- Reinforcing and refreshing existing skills and knowledge
- Seeing things from a new perspective and learning from their mentee
- Having the chance to reflect on their own professional development to date
- Expanding their professional network
- Enhancing their CV and future job applications
- Gaining a sense of fulfilment and recognition for their 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 realise their potential and meet their ambitions. Setting clearly defined and time-bound goals with your mentee will help both of you 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, videoconferencing platforms such as Zoom and Skype are a great alternative. If you cannot commit to regular meetings, perhaps now is not the right time to become a mentor.
- Mentor only those you truly believe in. To get the most out of being a mentor, you should strike up relationships only 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 mentee? We want to hear from you. Join the SecsintheCity LinkedIn group and share a post about what you’re looking for to see whether there’s anyone whose goals match up with your own.