When SHRM of Greater St. Louis requested an article about mentoring, it inspired me—inspired by the opportunities I’ve had to not only be mentored over the course of my career but having been a mentor for others.
A mentor is a trusted counselor or guide. Being a mentor is an honor and responsibility.
In business, mentoring focuses on career or work projects. However, sometimes the mentee needs help on the personal side of their profession. But we all need to remember that mentors are not clinical psychologists, so we must take care to focus on work related topics.
Common topics to help mentors and mentees get started include communication skills, leadership skills, networking, work/life balance, and management skills.
Beginnings and Endings
You should schedule a beginning and an end to mentoring. The goals the mentee wants to achieve should determine these dates.
For example, if they want to learn a new skill, the “end” can be measured by mastering that skill.
If the goal is behavioral, you might select milestones along the way, not necessarily an end to the exercises. The growth will continue throughout one’s career.
Types of Mentoring
Types of mentoring include ongoing, pre-set timelines, and reverse mentoring where younger team members coach more experienced members regarding social or technical skills.
Some employers offer formal programs to foster mentoring opportunities. However, sometimes mentoring programs are informal.
You will also want to choose where and how to meet. Currently, most mentoring is being managed remotely because of COVID. Optimally via video meetings since having the body language and voice of all participants is valuable. However, pandemic aside, meetings can happen remotely, in person, in an office, or on long walks around the office campus are some popular options.
The working relationship may be peer-to-peer, cross functional, step level managers.
Another choice in mentoring programs includes group mentoring. In group sessions, the participants agree on a topic and one leader facilitates sessions.
Whether it be formal or informal, you should agree on what you will focus on and how often you will meet. This is important to avoid any miscommunication or disappointment along the way.
What to do Next?
Commit to doing homework or practice between meetings. You both want to see progress toward the mentee’s goals. A timeline with milestones would be beneficial to track success.
Mentoring can be a rewarding experience for both parties. In my experience, I went into mentoring relationships to help someone else. Every time I came away having learned something as well.
Some mentoring relationships evolve into a long-lasting friendship.
Other mentoring relationships result in formal sponsorships! To learn more, check out Rik Nemanick’s February 19th SHRM article.
Rena Peterson, SHRM-SCP
Global Talent Acquisition Expert, #opentowork