Donna Lucas, Group vice-principal, HR and professional development, at the Shrewsbury Colleges Group, explains why mentoring is an all-round learning experience that benefits everyone.
I’ve often been asked why being a mentor is good for you and your career. Apart from the obvious benefit of being able to share your passion with others and get them as excited about the job as you are, there are some real benefits for you as a practitioner.
Mentoring is a great way to stay on top of new ideas and emerging technologies. Working with somebody new to the role will always provide you with additional challenges. There are many times during a mentoring relationship when I’ve needed to go back and refresh my knowledge of a particular topic or approach to ensure I’m up to date.
Building stronger relationships with colleagues
Mentoring will help you build stronger relationships with those you are working with. And I often find it provides you with an insight into your own career path and development needs. The likelihood is that, as your mentee progresses, they will go on to become a useful person in your network, and your professional relationship may last many years.
I’ve enjoyed listening to mentors relay their successes at interview, and I’ve often been struck by the way
the candidates are contributing to the success of their organisation by developing the next generation of colleagues.
Encouraging formal mentoring programmes in the workplace
And learning and growth do not always spring from success. I have been particularly struck by those who share their failures, and how people have the insight to realise that some of their best lessons or ideas can come from their past mistakes.
But perhaps the most compelling, and personally satisfying, reason for being a mentor is the sense you have eased the transition for a colleague moving into a new or developing role. This is something I’m sure we have all appreciated in our own pasts, and will again in the future.
We have something to learn from everyone and they too can learn from us. As such I’d always encourage formal mentoring programmes in the workplace – they define the sort of organisation you want to work for.