The Benefits of Sharing and Supporting in the Workplace

Posted by martin.parnell |

January is National Mentoring Month, an annual designation observed in order to celebrate mentoring and the positive effect it can have on young lives. Its goals are to raise awareness of mentoring in its various forms and recruit individuals to mentor, especially in programs that have waiting lists of young people.

Despite the perceived emphasis on supporting young lives, a mentor can provide valuable support to people of any age, especially at a time when some employees find themselves taking up second careers or having to adapt to new roles, in the workforce.

"Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximise their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be." Eric Parsloe, The Oxford

If you look up the word “mentor”, in the dictionary, you will find two definitions.The noun is used to describe “an experienced and trusted adviser”. The verb means to advise or train.

According to MENTOSET, a product of the Women's Engineering Society,“Mentoring is a powerful personal development and empowerment tool. It is an effective way of helping people to progress in their careers and is becoming increasing popular as its potential is realised. It is a partnership between two people (mentor and mentee) normally working in a similar field or sharing similar experiences. It is a helpful relationship based upon mutual trust and respect.

A mentor is a guide who can help the mentee to find the right direction and who can help them to develop solutions to career issues. Mentors rely upon having had similar experiences to gain an empathy with the mentee and an understanding of their issues. Mentoring provides the mentee with an opportunity to think about career options and progress.

A mentor should help the mentee to believe in their abilities and boost confidence. A mentor should ask questions and challenge, while providing guidance and encouragement. Mentoring allows the mentee to explore new ideas in confidence. It is a chance to look more closely at yourself, your issues, opportunities and what you want in life. Mentoring is about becoming more self-aware, taking responsibility for your life and directing your life in the direction you decide, rather than leaving it to chance.”

It goes on to list some of the benefits of mentoring, which include:   

  • The employee feels supported and has a mechanism for working through any problems that exist.
  • Mentoring includes training, support, encouragement, advice and guidance from people who have both 'done it before' and are usually independent of the mentee’s current organisation
  • Both the mentees and mentors gain confidence and leadership skills

You may not have considered yourself as a mentor, but there are probably times when you have supported a colleague, given advice and shared your experience. This is something to consider mentioning, if you are filling out a resume, as it is a valuable skill. You may have, at some time, been mentored and might consider passing on the lessons learned to someone else.

Although we are now almost at the end of this year’s National Mentoring Month, it is something to bear in mind for next January, an opportunity to reflect on the role of the mentor and consider how you might use your skills and experience to become one yourself.

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