Posted on 18 October 2016

Why Mentoring Benefits You, Not Just Your Mentee

laurenI once received an email from a colleague asking for advice. I didn’t know her well; she worked in a completely different department. In her email, she told me she was feeling stuck, struggling with parts of her role and not sure what to do. I didn’t know why she had turned to me for advice, and I had no idea how to respond. I’d never mentored someone before; I usually had a hard enough time solving my own problems!


The fact that she’d reached out meant that this mattered to her, so I decided to give it my best shot. Thanks to an internal program, I’d had a mentor, and it was a pretty fantastic experience. I thought about the conversations we’d had. My mentor had mainly encouraged me to do most the talking, shared a few stories of her own and asked probing questions if I was dancing around an issue.


When it comes to mentoring, there is a lot documented about the advantages mentees get out of the arrangement (increased confidence, bigger networks, stronger engagement) and what the organisation gains (talent retention and reinforcement of culture).


However, it might surprise you that mentoring also delivers significant benefits to you as the mentor. 


  • Mentoring can provide you with the opportunity to build a stronger relationship with someone who may not be a direct report. Remember, networking works in all directions, not just upwards.


  • By giving them a chance to speak in a safe environment, you as a leader can gain deeper insight into your mentee’s experience within the organisation. How might seeing the world through their lens change the way you operate as a leader?


  • It’s a massive confidence boost if you can help with a problem you’ve also faced. In sharing what I had learned from my experience, I had to stop and think about just how far I’d come.


Towards the end of my discussion with my colleague, I actually started to feel a little guilty. Was I getting more out of our partnership than she was? Still, my ‘mentee’ seemed to be a lot happier. She had worked out a plan for herself, and was keen to tackle the first steps. I think she also just appreciated having someone who listened to her without judging.


Through internal channels, I watched her grow into a strong performer and step up into a leadership position. This is not me taking credit for that; it’s clear that her hard work got her to where she wanted to be.


I’m genuinely happy for my mentee, but that’s not the main reason why mentoring is something I’ll continue to do at every opportunity. Yes, there are demonstrable benefits for the mentee and the company, but when comes to a return on investment – deciding to step up as a mentor is also a smart business choice.


So, what will you do when you get the call?


Posted by Lauren Scholtz. 

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