National Mentoring Day was founded in 2014 to celebrate, connect, educate and support mentors, mentees and mentoring initiatives, ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity to reach their full potential through access to mentoring. In 2016 the day was inaugurated as an official National Day at the Houses of Parliament. In the run-up to National Mentoring Day on 27 October, we have been considering the benefits of a mentoring programme.
Mentoring is a professional relationship in which an experienced individual (mentor) provides guidance, support, and knowledge to a less-experienced person (mentee). It typically involves sharing expertise, advice, and insights to help the mentee develop skills, knowledge, and personal growth. Mentoring is commonly used for career development, where mentors assist mentees in setting and achieving career goals, navigating workplace challenges, and gaining industry-specific knowledge. It can also be employed for personal growth, entrepreneurship, leadership development, and skill enhancement, fostering a dynamic exchange of wisdom and experience between mentor and mentee. It also improves the leadership, communication, management skills and confidence for both the mentee and the mentor.
Both mentors and mentees are needed for a successful mentoring programme. As most people are keen to develop their skills, knowledge and ultimately their careers, it can be easier to identify mentees whilst identifying mentors can be more difficult.
The key barriers to a potential mentor can include: time, skills, experience and a lack of confidence in their own ability.
“Anyone who keeps on learning not only remains young but becomes constantly more valuable”.
In exploring the barriers for potential mentors, we should consider a famous quote from Henry Ford: “Anyone who keeps on learning not only remains young but becomes constantly more valuable”. Through mentoring, the mentor will learn much about themselves – their own strengths and areas for development; and they will learn from the mentee – reverse mentorship.
Often, mentorship can be seen as hierarchical, but in truth, everyone needs mentorship. A senior executive may understand business strategy but may be less likely to understand Instagram for example. That’s where mentorship can truly benefit both the mentor and mentee.
The reciprocal benefits of a mentor/mentee relationship mean that there is a real benefit to everyone having a mentor, regardless of how accomplished someone is. With National Mentoring Day upon us, we encourage you to take a moment and think about how joining a mentoring scheme could benefit both you and others. Who knows, you may just find your perfect mentor or mentee!