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Monday, 8 August 2011

CPD23 - Thing 11 - Mentoring

Like most people, I think that mentoring is intrinsically a great idea.

For a mentor it can be an opportunity to give something back and for the mentee, it can provide a sounding board, exposure to different ways of thinking. A mentor has been described as 'a wise and trusted professional advisor' and this sums up the role very well.

Also, its been analysed that it actually pays to have a mentor.

For instance, in 2006 Sun Microsystems conducted a survey to assess the effectiveness of its company mentoring program. It found that 25% of employees who took part in the program had a salary grade change, compared to only 5% amongst those who did not participate. In addition, 28% of participating mentors had a salary increase, compared
to only 5% of non-participating mentors.
When it works, mentoring can be very helpful for both individuals and organisations - for instance it can help to improve employee retention, build morale, reduce stress, build teams, increase commitment, and accelerate leadership development.

In a nutshell, mentoring is the secret weapon of success in life. Indeed, it is recognised as such by schools and colleges who have successful, active alumni departments and by businesses and individuals who seek a support network.

Unfortunately, personally I've not had any luck with developing a long lasting mentor/mentee relationship until now. I'd be willing to explore  approaching someone who is willing and able to act as a mentor for me, but not exactly sure who that might be at the moment.

Probably the reason I've not succeeded in finding a mentor previously is that I've not been ready. You need to be in the right place emotionally to get the most of a mentor/mentee interaction. For a mentoring relationship to work, you need to be able to answer YES to all the following statements:
  • I'm responsible for my career goals and would enjoy the benefit of a mentor's guidance to create a plan for success.
  • I'm ready to listen, but I'm also ready to share my ideas so it's a give and take relationship.
  • I'm ready for objective feedback to consider new ideas and new approaches suggested by my mentor.
  • I have realistic expectations for my mentor relationship. No one is perfect and good relationships take honesty, effort and time.
  • I'm busy with school and/or work, but I'm ready to make a commitment for my future by communicating with my mentor.
To expand on the words of wisdom in the CPD23 Thing 11 blogpost and the referenced links such as the inspirational words of Dr Seuss found in the article on 'Sharing Program:The Big Boy Boomeroo of Mentoring', I have done some further research into the importance of mentoring.

One source of reference is a guy called Bud Bilanich from Denver in the United States who brands himself online as the 'common sense career coach'. He has blogged about the link between mentoring and career success. One of his top tips for success is to find a mentor - and he is not alone. Most career professionals advocate the same thing.

Bilanich helpfully highlights what to look for in a mentor, namely:

What makes for a good mentor? A good mentor…
M Motivates you do accomplish more than you think you can.
E Expects the best from you.
N Never gives up on you or lets you give up on yourself.
T Tells you the truth – even when it hurts.
O Occasionally kicks your butt.
R Really cares about you and your success.

This is a very helpful mnemonic and something we can all use to find the right mentor for us. In this process of finding an appropriate mentor he also emphasises that the relationship is built around confidence - with confident people around, you will be well on your way to career success.

This is one of the reasons why mentoring is particularly powerful for young and more disadvantaged people in helping them to succeed.

Until I am clearer about what direction I want to go in with my jobs and career, I am going to be careful about finding a new mentor.

In the meantime, I am mindful that is just as helpful and you can learn just as much by being a mentor, so I want to take the opportunity to give back myself and become either a CILIP Mentor or a Candidate Support Officer for the Career Development Group (whose role is to support people through the Chartership process).
To quote fellow CPD23 Things blogger, Infopromom, says - "being master of my fate will require impetus and proactivity on my part – I cannot be passive but must step out of my comfort zone to continue to grow and learn". Powerful, beautiful and true words!

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