You know what mentoring is, but why does mentorship matter? How can it help your career?
Here at ECO Canada, we’re gearing up for the inaugural session of our new Mentorship Program for our Environmental Professional (EP) members. We believe that mentorship makes a difference and builds a better, more knowledgeable workforce contributing to Canada’s environmental sector.
Mentorship is defined as “guidance provided by a mentor, especially an experienced person in a company or educational institution”. The basic principle has remained unchanged for millennia. So what does mentoring look like in today’s workplace? Read on for the top 5 reasons mentoring matters.
“The best mentors see their role as one that far transcends advice-giving” – Vincent O’Connell
Top 5 Reasons Mentoring Matters
1 Mentees perform better: Having a dedicated person to go to with questions about your work and help you navigate the workplace is invaluable. Having a mentor helps a mentee feel more secure in their work, opens up lines of communication, and this has an organic effect on mentee performance. When a mentee feels comfortable asking questions and receives job-related support, they’ll shoot for the stars!
2 Develop new skills: Not only can a mentoring partnership help younger and more inexperienced workers gain job-related skills, mentoring helps both parties develop soft skills such as working collaboratively with others. In turn, the organization benefits from having employees that demonstrate respect, understand workplace relationships and can work well with others.
3 Creates a better workplace environment: Mentoring can lead to increased job satisfaction for both the mentor and the mentee. It fosters a network of both social and professional support within the company and can reduce stress levels for employees. Having someone to check in with and to share your ideas with can help relieve workplace anxiety for mentees, and mentors can connect on a personal level with more junior employees, essentially closing the knowledge and the social gaps that exist in some workplace cultures.
4 Retention: The benefits listed above all create a sense of satisfaction and belonging for employees on both sides of the mentoring partnership. When both employees feel like they are being valued for their contributions, even on a one-to-one basis, then they’re more likely to stay in the game for the long haul. If the person being mentored has a senior person that’s easy to reach out to and their questions and concerns are being addressed, then why would they leave? For those providing mentorship, they’re gaining leadership skills and having an impact on their mentee’s career.
5 Rewarding: the mentoring relationship can be both personally and professionally rewarding. Each partner benefits from the relationship. Career-wise, having a seasoned professional to share their knowledge with a mentee can form the building blocks of a stellar career path. When it comes to mentors, it’s rewarding to know they’re having a direct impact on their mentee’s professional growth.
There are a few basics to consider in any mentorship relationship in order for it to succeed:
- Compatability: the success of any mentoring partnership relies heavily on how well-matched the mentor and mentee are. They need to be able to converse easily and have a genuine interest in helping each other. The partnership doesn’t need to be too formal.
- Not a One-Way Street: a mentoring partnership should flow both ways. Mentees should have the expectation that they are contributing to the relationship in a meaningful way too – not just expecting to receive professional advice without giving back.
- Clear Expectations: having realistic expectations and objectives helps guide the mentoring partnership in the right direction. A mentor is not there to push the mentee forward for promotion, but to help them grow on their career path. Mentorship involves more than just devoting a set time period, it requires buy-in from both sides.
- Relationship Goals: Defining the goals of mentoring is the key to a successful partnership. Each partner should be accountable for success. Setting goals early-on in the process can help the duo work towards achieving something concrete together. This doesn’t have to be overly ambitious or formal, but something as simple as “I’d like to learn more about giving great presentations” or “I’d like to share my knowledge of how to navigate regulations to make your job easier”.