But what are the benefits to mentoring when you’re an SME with limited time and resource? A Gartner study revealed that employees who mentored were promoted six times more often than their peers who didn’t mentor, and employees involved in a mentoring scheme had a 20% higher retention rate than those who didn’t. Increasingly, mentoring is becoming a mutually beneficial exercise bringing real value for all involved.
Here are just some of the reasons why you should mentor:
Improve your own learning
Flipped on its edge, ‘reverse mentoring’ results in the mentor benefitting from the knowledge and skills of the mentee. Not only are young professionals often fluent in the latest technology, social and communications tools and trends, but they offer a unique perspective on the industry from an entry level. According to Ray Hooper, the ITP’s Mentor of the Year 2014, “apprentices see things at the coal face.”
Dave Davis, Senior Systems Engineer, iDirect and Mentor of the Year 2015 agrees, “Without doubt mentoring also helps me. Many a time have I given a piece of advice, or pointed out a different perspective only to think “maybe I should heed my own advice”. It makes you question the norm and constantly look for ways of improving yourself.”
Develop your leadership skills
Mentoring can help to hone your own leadership skills. Going back to basics, mentoring the fresh new talent entering your industry can assist in the development of processes within your own business, helping to grow and nurture the talent you employ. Not only does this improve retention rates, but can boost morale and in turn encourage a more productive workforce.
It requires a specific set of skills to run a session, engage with a mentee and effectively organise and review his or her development. Some potential mentors may feel they don’t have the experience to be able to guide someone else, but every relationship can open up opportunities and imparting guidance on lessons you’ve learned, or mistakes you’ve made, can be immensely valuable to a mentee. Mentoring brings a new dimension to the skills you’ve acquired and have no doubt been using for some time.
Although retired whilst mentoring, Ray Hooper acknowledges “Had I volunteered as a mentor when I was working, I would have benefited from a business perspective because of the nature of the work my mentee was involved in.”
Build professional networks
The ITP’s mentoring scheme is cross-industry, meaning mentors meet mentees from different businesses. Not only is this mutually beneficial for gaining insights into how other organisations work, but it can build powerful relationships between one company and another where traditionally there may have been little interaction.
Tracy Costa, a Manager at BT, took part in the scheme as a mentee. She said: “The programme gave me access to someone outside of my own network of contacts with the skills and knowledge to help me develop and to think about things in a different way. It’s been really good having someone else there to ask the difficult questions, to make me think about my own values and opinions, but also to have the knowledge to point me in different directions to go and find the answers myself.”
Dave Davis concludes “I firmly believe that we have a responsibility to make sure those following up the ladder are supported, encouraged and inspired to be professionals we can be proud of. It’s not a case of ‘why should I mentor’ – it’s a case of ‘why not?”
The ITP has been running a mentoring scheme for the telecoms industry since 2007 www.theitp.org