How and Why to Become a Mentor
Mentoring someone is a time-consuming and energy-intensive commitment. Not only does it require regularly checking in and coaching another person to work well, it also demands your focus, emotional involvement, and thoughtfulness.
But it can be a fantastic career move. Let’s go over the top three professional benefits of acting as a mentor, plus some ideas for finding a mentee.
1. Leadership Experience
If you’ve never managed before, mentoring is an excellent opportunity to hone your management skills. Many of the responsibilities are the same: you monitor the person’s career growth, help them make work-related decisions, point out areas of improvement and, ultimately, make them better at their job and more successful.
The stakes are a little lower when you’re a mentor versus a manager, so if you make any mistakes, it’s better to do so now. Plus, when you do start managing, you’ll feel more confident because you’re not completely inexperienced.
2. Reverse Learning
Just because you’re more senior to your mentee doesn’t mean the knowledge only flows in one direction. You’ll learn a lot as well simply by interacting with someone who’s in a different role, at a different company, or handling different projects than you.
For example, maybe you’re mentoring a person who has the title you had four years ago. They’ll keep you up-to-date on the most current technologies, trends, and best practices. In addition, they might see innovative strategies or experimental concepts before you do, since they’re less removed.
One of the best aspects of mentoring is how good it makes you feel. You’re getting to play an important role in another person’s career and help them maximize their potential. You also get to watch them grow and mature. If you feel like something is missing from your work, mentoring is a wonderful way to boost your engagement and satisfaction. In addition, it’s also an excellent chance to “give back” if you have (or had) a mentor yourself.
So, how do you become a mentor? There are several ways. First, you can allow a mentoring relationship to develop organically. Find someone you already advise fairly regularly (like a younger coworker you have coffee with every week), and ask them if they’d be interested in an official mentoring relationship. Or, you can make yourself available to whomever wants a mentor. Let’s say you’re in an engineering-related meetup. Ask the organizers if they know anyone who could benefit from a mentor, or even announce during a meeting you’d be happy to help people who’d like career guidance.
There are also “mentor match” programs online. The options will vary depending on your location, role, availability, and industry, so we recommend searching “be a mentor + [your city, profession, and/or industry].”
If your company has a formal mentoring program, that’s obviously one of the easiest ways to find a mentee. But more often than not, these programs don’t exist. Consider starting one yourself—not only will you gain internal visibility, you’ll also get the chance to help a number of your coworkers learn from and support each other.
About Signature Consultants, LLC
Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Signature Consultants was established in 1997 with a singular focus: to provide clients and consultants with superior staffing solutions. For the seventh consecutive year, Signature was voted as one of the “Best Staffing Firms to Work For” and is now the 14th largest IT staffing firm in the United States (source: Staffing Industry Analysts). With 26 locations throughout North America, Signature annually deploys thousands of consultants to support, run, and manage their clients’ technology needs. Signature offers IT staffing, consulting, managed solutions, and direct placement services. For more information on the company, please visit www.sigconsult.com.