6 Ways Mentoring Can Improve Your Career

No matter if it’s a formal relationship or not, having a mentor or serving in the role of mentor can make a huge difference in your career and personal growth. It takes a lot of effort, passion, and time to maintain a mentor relationship. It may take several attempts to find the right match but the benefits far outweigh the effort required to cultivate the relationship. Here’s why:
1. Formal education and training are expensive
Unless your organization has a large education budget, professional development opportunities are unlikely to be available. Professional development can take many forms, including conferences, brown bag lunches and guest speakers, reimbursement or assistance for higher education, certifications, and so forth. Mentorship programs are the most rewarding and cost-effective professional development opportunity that any business or organization can offer.
If your workplace doesn’t have a formal program in place, don’t be afraid to start one or to ask others if they’d be willing to mentor you informally. Mentorships can take many forms. Don’t miss the chance to establish new or redefine professional relationships.
2. Expertise can be hard to find
Because of the many times that industry niches exist, expertise is often developed through personal experiences. Rarely will an educational program or training program be able to prepare an individual for every situation. Perhaps your expertise or role requires skills that cannot be taught in a formal setting. Your career growth may have led to your specialization. Each year, you become more knowledgeable about a limited number of topics.
A mentor with similar experience or background might be more useful than looking for relevant keynotes or lectures at the next conference.
3. Ensure that the open-door policy works
Mentor relationships can take many forms, as I mentioned earlier. It can be beneficial to have a mentor that isn’t in your exact career path or in the same field. I was once a participant in a mandatory mentorship program. Every employee was assigned a mentor upon their hire, even senior leaders. Your mentor was not necessarily someone on your project or functional group, but you reported to them for annual reviews, advice, or concerns about office life.
This arrangement was successful because many felt it was easier to talk about career goals with a mentor who was one step away from their day-today performance without worrying about whether the mentor might have unspoken comments. The mentor could offer career advice and help resolve personal disputes between colleagues.
4. Freshen your eyes and ears
A mentor can help you see situations from different perspectives. Your mentor can offer suggestions based on their experience or help you to come up with new ideas. You can benefit from a close relationship with your mentor to get honest feedback. This allows you to make improvements to your performance and to make managerial and procedural changes to help your project get back on track.
5. Team unity can be increased
Mentor relationships are built on the ability of one party to recognize the need for help. Trust is built when the need is acknowledged and knowledge shared. Team trust can lead to better team synergy. Team members communicate better and projects run more smoothly when there is greater team trust. Individual team members who acknowledge their dependence on each other can change the dynamic from “I work for team XYZ” into “I am a part of team XYZ.”
6. Benefit both parties
While we often only focus on the recipient end of a mentor relationship relationship, it is important to remember that it is a work in progress. Mentor relationships are a way for the mentor to be able to help their protégés.

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