How To Boost Your Career By Mentoring

Mentoring is a practice that is becoming more commonplace today in companies that are successful and also care about the development and growth of their employees in both personal and professional fields. Here at Suzzanne Uhland’s Blog, we have explored the many reasons mentorships benefit the individuals involved in the relationship directly and how the company is indirectly greatly enhanced as well by providing the space, guidance, and motivation to harness mentoring as a tool towards evolution.

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In your own career progression, we are sure you can recall the times when you had to learn about a process or find a way to deal with a situation and realized you were faced with learning opportunities. After that, you became aware when these situations repeated themselves and were able to act accordingly based on your own experiences or if you were lucky enough, according to the teachings you received from a coach or mentor you had. Lastly, there is a time in which you are faced with being able to pass your knowledge down to others.

Teachings are in itself a very rewarding experience, but are there other things that I can expect to receive when investing my time and energy as a mentor? Are there other ways to boost my career by participating as an active member in a mentoring program and lending my time towards helping mentees grow personally and professionally?

Teaching is learning

Teaching is a powerful tool that allows you truly gauge your understanding of how things work. People have a tendency to believe that they understand concepts better than they really do. Through teaching, you actually become aware of your understanding as you try to instruct others on procedures or ideas. When you show someone how to do something, you understand details that you may have overlooked before, and thus you gain a deeper understanding yourself and learn from your own instructions as a result.

Building bridges

Having a great relationship with colleagues and coworkers is something that greatly aids the progression of your career. This type of internal networking allows you to have a closer relationship with the people you share your work with and that way you can ensure that people are collaborating and looking out of each other. Mentoring is an excellent way to strengthen those bonds and to create new ones with incoming personnel that has just arrived at the company or who have started their progression through the ranks.

Seeing your worth

Mentoring helps you evaluate your own career advancement and gain perspective in how much you have accomplished. When you are a mentor, you can see how far you have gotten by sharing this time with people who is just getting started in their own profession. Being able to see how you can contribute to the advancement of others and how influential those contributions become is truly uplifting.

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Leadership development

As a mentor, you have to guide and oversee people from different backgrounds and with diverse sets of skills, something that will truly test the potential of your leadership and management skills. Everything about being a leader from the way you deal with adversity in the manner you communicate with others will be tested when you become a mentor. This type of practice will only make you a much more capable manager.

Learning new skills

Everyone you meet can teach you something new. In a mentor-mentee relationship, that statement rings as true as ever because both individuals are given a great opportunity to exchange ideas and learn from each other in a real-world environment. Do not underestimate how much you can receive from your mentees even when you are the one who is supposed to be mentoring because in most cases both of those terms are interchangeable.

The organization

When you help others become more competitive and advance in their careers, you are at the same time strengthening the organization and giving back to the profession. As a leader, you know that the accomplishment of the mission is just as important as the welfare of the members of the company when you mentor you are helping address both of these factors.

Talent retention

Talented individuals should be retained, and a company must do everything within their power for these people to not just stay in the organization, but to never feel like they have a reason to leave. Mentoring is one of the ways you can contribute to the creation of an environment that makes workers feel appreciated and valued by the company.

Seeing the bigger picture

Mentoring gives you the opportunity to gain perspective from different levels of the organization. Sometimes your own privilege as a senior employee blinds you from seeing the issues that other members must face. This insight is unique and extremely valuable and being in a mentoring relationship allows you to have direct access to that particular stream of information.


The Best 3 Approaches To Finding The Right Mentor For You

A good mentoring relationship is something that many successful professionals give credit to when asked about how they got where they are. The benefits of mentorships are clear, measurable and evident to anyone who decides to even examine the matter and talk to those who have personally been involved in one of these great professional partnerships. Great mentors are people who have decided to sacrifice some of their time and effort in order to help someone else excel and attempt to reach their full potential.

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That aspect in itself is already commendable, but it is worth mentioning as we have said numerous times here at Suzzanne Uhland’s blog, that the proper mentoring relationship is a two-way street in which both parties are rewarded from the interaction in different manners. 

A mentee doesn’t let all the responsibility resting on their mentor’s shoulder, on the contrary, one could argue that mentees should be even more involved in helping guide the discussion and steer the course of the partnership, while at the same time finding ways to give back to their mentor by also sharing their knowledge and providing feedback that is extremely valuable for the mentor to assess their own interpersonal and leadership skills. 

People with the experience will tell you that there are few things as rewarding as seeing that your efforts are paying off when you are helping someone else get ahead in life, but at the same time you feel that the relationship nourishes you and helps you understand how to be better at what you do and how to make the most of everything you have experienced so far.

One of the most challenging parts of mentoring is actually finding the right mentor, or better yet, knowing what to look for in a mentor in order to choose the best person for you and also someone who can benefit just as much as you will during the partnership. In this article, we want to talk about 3 aspects you should broadly consider to make the right decision about your mentoring relationship and where it should lead you.

Thinking about short-term

Where do you want to be a year from now? This is one of the most typical questions people get asked at interviews, but there is a reason for that. Short-term goals are easily attainable benchmarks that can help you measure success in a short amount of time and also be motivated by seeing your own advancement. Having a mentor that is a reflection of where you want to be in the short-term is an excellent way to adjust your sights and start marching in the right direction. This type of mentor is great for helping take on small tasks and projects at your level because their experience is very similar to yours and they understand where you are since they were there not that long ago. These mentors can also help you gain insight on the company and aid you in finding ways to make your transition smoother as you try to get used to the new environment. This relationship can be quite informal, and you can take charge on getting started by discussing it over a cup of coffee as you socialize and get to know other people in the company.  

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Looking further ahead

While the previous mentor can help you think about how to best carry yourself on a daily basis inside the company, this second mentor is a person who can help you project to where you want to be in five years. This person can help with advice on how to advance in your field and within the company and how to accomplish your short-term goals but will your sights further ahead. Mid-level managers are exceptional individuals to look at when trying to find a “five-year-ahead” mentor since they occupy the positions where you may see yourself in the future while you are still part of the company and they already have some experience under their belt to share with you. Engaging into one of these relationships is a bit more formal and should be planned ahead. Treat it as if it were an interview and keep in mind that the person may not want to engage due to time constraints and other possible factors.

A Career Mentor

This advisor is someone who can help you answer the tough questions about where you want to go with your career and the ultimate goals you want to accomplish. A career mentor may work inside the company, or it could also be someone who has been successful in your field and you admire professionally. They take time to find, and you may have more than one through the years, but the one thing they will have in common is that they will become important to what you do and their opinion will matter on the decisions you make. A mentoring relationship is something to be cherished and cared for if you want to make the most out of it.

What Can Mentoring Do For Me And My Career?

Mentoring just like teaching is an honorable endeavor in which someone decides to sacrifice some of his or her time to invest in the personal and professional development of another person. Mentoring programs can do wonders for a company not only by helping individuals become more competitive in the field and more prepared to undertake the challenges of the market but also by fostering an environment of wellness and loyalty towards the organization. Here at Suzzanne Uhland’s blog, we have talked before about the importance of mentors for career development and how they can impact many aspects beyond the company’s competitiveness and employee morale.

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A good mentor is a person who is willing to share their time, knowledge, expertise and overall skills. They can help you find some perspective and find an angle that can give you a more positive outlook in life. Mentors truly care about the success of their mentees and know what they are talking about when they share their advice.

One of the most crucial aspects of a great mentor is the fact that even as they can be a great leader and help you achieve more with their guidance, they understand that they are not a finished product themselves. Mentors who are truly remarkable are people who are constantly growing and becoming better at everything they do. They are curious, inquisitive and do not settle for staying inside their comfort zone. Perhaps this is why we always talk about your responsibility as a mentee and what you can do to reciprocate inside the relationship.

Sometimes the most challenging part of mentorship is to actually understand its advantages and seek the relationship as something that you accept as a beneficial career move. Many times people are unable to identify the necessity and advantages mentoring can bring to them and overlook this amazing opportunity and that is why today we want to explore a little bit into what mentoring can do for you.

One of the most valuable aspects of mentoring is its ability to allow you to look at yourself in the mirror. What we mean by that is the fact that mentoring allows you to actually examine your weaknesses just as much as your own strengths. Your mentor is a great source of feedback that can help you identify things that you didn’t even know about yourself. This aspect can sometimes work as a double edge sword as it is the case with some people who believe they want to honestly examine themselves but are sometimes unable to deal with the repercussions. Maturity and willingness to accept well-intentioned critique is absolutely necessary to make the most out of this part of mentoring.

Another very important aspect of mentoring and probably the one that draws the largest amount of people towards these relationships is the search for knowledge. It is obvious that you do not know everything, as nobody does, but mentors are individuals with vast knowledge and experience that are willing to take their time to share it with you. Getting involved with mentoring and being open to acquiring new knowledge is the right attitude to have towards your own development. Remember that this is not a one-way street and just as you are learning from your mentor, you can teach them things you know better than they do. Mentoring is a very enriching experience when it comes to sharing knowledge and exchanging ideas and skillsets.

The leadership skills you can pick up from a mentor are sometimes the best lessons you can receive without even thinking about it. Your mentor is a person that will teach you things, even while they are teaching because their example is one of the most valuable knowledge they can pass down.

In order to take advantage of the relationship, you must be vigilant and observe the way they do things and their reasoning behind the decisions they make. Think about it, they are people who have been successful in your same field and individuals you most likely look up to. Professional growth is just one part of the package and you must also grow as a person to further develop your career.

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Last but not least, a mentor is a great refuge where you can be completely honest and talk about the things that you do not understand or bother you without fear of the consequences of your candor. A mentor can give you a unique point of view from their leadership role and perhaps help you understand why some decisions are made at their level that you may not share or disagree with; all of this without risking upsetting your supervisors with your questions or your own discomfort with the situation. Mentoring is a great way to put yourself in the shoes of a leader and know what it takes to make the hard choices so you can be prepared for when the time comes in which you have to make those choices yourself.

How To Enhance The Mentoring Relationship As A Mentee

Here is Suzzanne Uhland’s Blog, we have talked about all the great benefits mentoring programs offer the organization and each of the individuals involved in this type of relationships that stimulate mutual growth. People are often skeptical about mentorships because they feel that it is perhaps too good to be true. The idea of having a person who is successful and much more experienced than yourself, helping you bounce ideas out of each other and providing you with a unique insight into your own professional field for free, is sometimes difficult to accept. Mentorships seem like a great deal but in a world as competitive as ours, it is difficult to simply accept something that apparently puts you in the position of being benefited without having to give anything up but your time in return.

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The reason why people may think this about mentoring programs has more to do with our own ignorance of the role of a mentee than with any possible insidious nature hidden within a mentor’s motives. It is important to understand that successful mentoring relationships are a two-way street and that mentors have just as much to gain from them as mentees do. If you have been guilty of this mentality, then I invite you to learn a little more about the actual role of the mentee. And how being in the seemingly receiving end of the relationship, also comes with its own set of responsibilities and the need to give back.

Successful mentees that are able to make the most out of their relationship with senior individuals are those who seize the opportunities that arise when two minds work together on a single goal and are able to meet regularly to engage in that which they are passionate about.

One of the best ways to make your relationship become more reciprocal is to give a chance to your mentor to listen to what you have to say. Sometimes you have a lot to offer but neither of you are aware of the knowledge and experience you possess and that could be of great value. Mentors are people who are also looking to learn and will be happy to participate in activities that can turn into a learning experience. It is important that your fit with a mentor is based on a mutual understanding and you are both matched based on your personality and common values, since those type of pairings usually work best and spark the necessary curiosity that will allow both parties to become interested in each other’s set of skills and what they can teach one another. Simply being a good company and a genuinely interested individual can go a long way as a mentee.

Another aspect to consider is to be understanding and accepting of your role in the relationship and the fact that in most situations, it will be better for you as the mentee, to be flexible as to the dynamics of the mentorship. Your mentor may be a person who prefers to take on a coaching approach or perhaps they are more into answering questions and allow you to lead the course of the program. It is important for you to be aware of this and be respectful as to which type of relationship seems to be favored by your mentor.

Do not be afraid to talk about the things you know. Everyone is an expert at something and you have not achieved what you have thus far without being particularly good at something. Do not feel that your skills are irrelevant as you will be surprised how the things you know may change someone else’s life and in this case, help your mentor learn something or receive advice from a seemingly unlikely source. Something as common as the age or background difference can be a great place to start, as you can find many ways to teach your mentor something that you take for granted.

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Feedback is a great way to show you mentor that you respect the work you do together and that you take seriously the time they invest in your development. When you give your mentor feedback, you are helping him or her expand their own leadership skills and grow as professionals. Mentoring sessions are an excellent opportunity to evaluate one’s outlook on leadership and to conduct experiments on a smaller scale in which a mentor can evaluate the way they guide an individual and assert their own experience in order to help someone else direct their efforts towards their own professional and personal development. Just like giving feedback, it is important to actually listen to advice and trust the person you are working with. There is nothing more frustrating than a mentee that doesn’t listen to advice, as it makes the relationship ineffective and the time spent together feel as it were wasted.

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The Most Common Mentoring Mistakes You Should Avoid

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Mentoring is a practice that benefits companies, individuals belonging to the organization and more closely mentors and mentees who are personally involved with this type of partnerships. When members of a company are partnered with in each other in order to give or receive the guidance that comes along with a mentorship, you are not only helping them to grow professionally and to advance their own career and develop leadership skills, but you are also doing a great service when it comes to the organization’s growth and its impact on the industry. People engaged in successful mentoring programs are not only able to advance on their own career path but also able to grow as an individuals and be part of a workplace that cares about building a better work culture, promote better communication amongst staff and create a positive impact in retention efforts. As great as it sounds, we must be aware of the fact that while successful mentoring programs are great for many more reasons than the ones we’ve just listed, they do not always function the way they are meant to and they often fail.

A mentoring program can be unsuccessful for many reasons, such as a lack of support by the company on the mentor/mentee relationship or even insufficient engagement to the cause by the participants themselves. Today here at Suzzanne Uhland’s Blog, we want to take a look at some of the reasons why mentorship programs do not work and which are the most common mistakes participants makes that often lead to failed mentoring relationship programs. While there is not one universal trick to make a program succeed, there are a few things that you should keep in mind in order to give your mentoring initiative every possible chance to be prosperous.

Carelessly matching partners

This is probably one of the worst mistakes that can be made when starting to plan a mentorship program. Names shouldn’t be picked out of a hat like in a lottery and people shouldn’t be matched unless they are carefully selected to work together based on their necessities, skills, and personalities. Sometimes people think that just because you have an individual who is a leader in the company, he or she will be willing to automatically become a mentor or even that they’d be good at it. Not matching people properly can ruin a mentoring program before it even takes off.

Failing to provide guidance

So now you have your people together and then what? You cannot simply let them mingle and then hope for the best. Mentors should understand what is expected of them within the company’s goal and according to the plan that has been carefully laid out that outlines the purpose of the mentoring program. Remember that mentors shouldn’t be first-line supervisors, so they must understand what their place is as mentors and respect those boundaries. The best way to assure that is to clearly explain what they goals are and what is expected of them when it comes to mentoring their mentees.

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Not allocating the proper time

If you have a great program set up but do not allocate time for your people to meet and have proper time to conduct their mentoring activities, then you might as well just cancel the whole program. Mentoring takes time and just trying to squeeze it in between breaks and in off-hours is just not going to cut it. Mentoring programs deserve the time and the energy necessary to be fruitful and to truly spark change. Time needs to be set aside for your teams to meet.

Leaving it all up to the mentor

This can happen at a company level, but also at the individual level, we think that the mentor is the one who needs to guide the relationship and just do everything for it to succeed. Mentors are normally very busy individuals and in a way or another, they are the ones who are donating their time and energy to help others advance and the organization itself to be better positioned within the market. It is unfair to expect mentors to do all the heavy lifting and to be responsible for the relationship to work. The key to success is to accept that this is a partnership and therefore all parties involved need to pitch in. Forgetting to follow up.

Not planning the path

The path of mentorship must be filled with benchmarks and goals that are spaced in carefully planned intervals that allow partners to know where they are going and how well they are doing on their way there. Sometimes mentorships believe they can just make it up as they go and do not have a need to plan their steps before taking them; this is a huge mistake and it only leads to failure in the long run.


Famous mentors and mentees that became very successful

Throughout history, there have been relationships that have changed the course of the world or that have been so influential that even books have been written about them. We all know CEOs that are very successful or young entrepreneurs that became millionaires before the age of 30. But how did they do it? Self-made or did they have some help?

Most of them, of course, had some help and cashed in on it. They had the perfect mentors and made that relationship a count in their lives. Let’s take a look at some of those mentee-mentor relationships that have crossed borders and that are well-known for their success.

Steve Jobs was a mentor for Mark Zuckerberg in the early days of Facebook. They often met to discuss the way that the business should be managed and which were the next steps Mark had to take in order to grow his business and make an impact on the world. The day that Steve Jobs died Mark posted on his Facebook page that he would miss him greatly and that he had been a very good friend and mentor, showing him that he could change the world with his actions.   

In the world of anchoring in big companies such as CBS, women used to be left in second place when it came to anchoring the news or important issues. Nowadays it is very common to see women doing this role. Well, Connie Chung was the first woman to co-anchor CBS Evening News and earned a spot anchoring some of the biggest news programs in the biggest network newscasts and she mentored Kyung B. Yoon. After some time Yoon said that she wasn’t even interested in working in the TV business but after having Connie as a mentor her whole view changed and she saw journalism as a very viable career.  

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Musicians also have mentors in their careers and maybe a lot of people don’t know this but Bob Dylan had a very good mentor that made his career what it was and made him continue pursuing his goal to take music to the highest level. Dylan´s mentor was the very well-known musician Woody Guthrie. Bob Dylan used to listen to woody’s music when he was just a teenager and used to write him his songs for his approval. Dylan was so moved and influenced by Woody that he wrote “Song to Woody” in order to acknowledge his influence over his music.

Let’s talk about powerful women in business. Sheryl Sandberg who was the COO, Chief Operation officer for Facebook had a share of mentors that she appreciates and gives credit for her success. She had many mentors in many stages of her life but she remembers one that played an amazing role in her life: it was her college teacher Larry Summers who was her mentor and sponsor. They worked together at the World Bank and the Treasury Department and she has not fallen short of words when it comes to giving him the credit for her success in life.

Politicians also need mentors and that is the case of Astronaut and former U.S. Senator John Glenn. He owes his success, as he says, to his civics teacher when he was just a teenager running around in high school. He had the privilege to be mentored by almost an unknown person to the public but he acknowledges the work of his mentor by speaking about the importance of mentorship programs in early stages of life and the satisfaction that mentors get when they see their efforts reflected on their mentees and the way the can help and mentor others that come to them.

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In the world of religion, mother Teresa of Calcutta who was a very well-known person that gave her life to patients with AIDS and helped other charities also had a mentor. Her mentor was Father Michael van der Peet. Their relationship started when they were both waiting to catch a bus in the middle of Rome and they constantly exchanged ideas and had a very close relationship. Mother Teresa of Calcutta owed him a great deal as she always said that he was the person that inspired her to help others and to dedicate her life to all the charities she sponsored.

Christian Dior, the fashion god as he is known mentored the other fashion master Yves St. Laurent. Both met in Paris at a party thrown by Vogue and St. Laurent was fascinated by Dior from the very beginning. He used to say that he Dior taught him the entire basis that he knew about his art in fashion.  St. Laurent then replaced Dior as the designer of the Dior couture house, which in turn made his career grow to what we know today.  

Everybody needs a mentor or has had a mentor at any point in their lives. Think about who was, is or has been your mentor and you will see that the influence that person had in your life could still be seen in all your actions.

Be sure to also read this post about what some of the most famous leaders have to say about mentoring.

How To Set Up A Mentoring Program

The benefits that a mentoring program can offer your company are many and we have even covered them here before on Suzzanne Uhland’s blog. The importance of mentorship programs to employee career progress and advancement of company leadership is evident and an opportunity that every organization should seriously consider as a stepping-stone of its own success. One of the most alluring aspects of a mentorship program is the fact that is relatively free for the company because it utilizes resources the company already has in order to offer employees a training opportunity.

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So how should you go about it? What is the best way to get your mentoring program started in a way that will cause the most impact and positively motivate your employees to actively participate and proudly promote?

The very first thing to do when you are thinking about implementing a mentoring program in your company is to take the time to clearly define what is the exact purpose of the program. What specific benefit do you wish to achieve from creating the program and offering it to your team? Identifying the needs of your company is absolutely crucial to defining the goals of your program and tailoring those aims to answer the demands of the current status of the organization. A mentoring program cannot be created thinking it will be a one-size-fits-all solution for your company, instead, you should focus on a particular aspect and you will most likely see that other benefits will come as inevitable but welcomed side-effects. If you want to create a mentoring program to welcome new employees and help them get acquainted with the culture of the organization and their role in the company, you need to plan that strategy differently from that of a program geared towards conserving top talent or developing leadership skills from your potential future managers. A successful mentoring program should be planned with both flexibility and structure in order to give participants the clarity of goals to be achieved while at the same time cater to their specific individual mentoring needs.

Finding participants for the programs is the next logical step after the structure of it is set in place. It is obvious that the novelty of a mentoring program will create a lot of expectations and normally these initiatives are met with enthusiasm and curiosity. However, it is important to take advantage of this momentum and turn it into actual participation. Don’t believe for a second that simply being interested in the program means that possible participants are already aware of its benefits. One of the main reasons these programs seldom fail is due to lack of promotion, so putting in place a strategy to let team members learn about the existence of mentoring initiatives is just as important as actually educating them on the many benefits of participation. Stakeholders and key personnel at the top of the organization also need to be properly introduced to the concept of the program and its advantages.

Making the program attractive to mentors is also of high importance. In a way, mentors are the most valuable assets a mentoring program has, so you need to be focus on strategies that make participation attractive for them in such way that they are motivated to make time out of their busy schedule and dedicate it to mentoring interested individuals. Remember mentoring is a two-way street and those being guided are getting a benefit that is comparable to those that are given the opportunity to set an example and provide advice on someone else’s professional development; a commendable endeavor that can teach them a lot about their own skills and setbacks.

Matching participants is something else that requires planning, dedication and it can be considered one of the most challenging aspects of creating a mentoring program.

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Those interested in being part of a mentoring initiative will bring all kinds of backgrounds, skills, learning styles and individual needs that must be considered in order to provide them with the best environment for growth and also the best opportunity to give back. Instead of simply finding a way to dictate matching from high up the chain, it would be a lot more beneficial to allow for the process to be more organic by allowing mentees to have a say in the pairing process. Regardless of how you go about this, it is important to consider profiling participants and gathering enough information about them individually in order to best find strategies for matching to at least have a place to start. Sometimes people like to work with others whom they share interests with, graduated from the same alma matter or at least have similar views on some subjects.

In some cases, one mentor can be assigned to a group of individuals instead of simply pairing them with one single person, all of that depends on the organization and the desires of those involved with the program.