Achieve More Through Mentoring
Many people have experienced the mentor/mentee relationship at some point in life, perhaps during their education or in the corporate world. As a fellow mentor and mentee, this Career Girl understands the value of mentoring. As a mentor, one is able to help the mentee develop specific skills and/or prepare for new, challenging assignments. Sometimes those assignments can lead to career advancement for the mentee. The mentor/mentee relationship at its best is driven by the mentee with the articulation of specific goals and is a reciprocal relationship.
Formal mentoring programs exist in many organizations and are best utilized when there is greater participation by employees at many levels within the organization. In one example, a well designed mentoring program in a large institution is underutilized. Approximately nine percent of employees explored the program. However, only four and one-half percent of employees made at least one connection. Furthermore, only a fraction of these employees had multiple mentor/mentee relationships over a three year period.
Before engaging in a mentor/mentee relationship, evaluate your needs. Think about the types of development you need and the level of commitment and trust required to achieve your goals.
Consider these three levels of relationships: informational, skill development, and advocacy. With these three levels in mind, use these guidelines to select your mentor. An informational relationship is expected to last two to three months, but could be as simple as one fact-finding conversation, and focuses on a mentee’s specific and immediate needs. It is a low-level commitment for both parties. At the skill development level, a relationship typically lasts three to six months. The mentees seek to develop a specific skill or technique, and mentors provide more guidance and share their experiences. At the advocacy level, a high level of trust is necessary. The relationship is expected to last a minimum of six to twelve months. The connection is likely to involve mutual learning and should build relationship-oriented skills and behaviors. The mentor provides guidance and suggests additional resources to assist the mentees’ development to position them for new opportunities. As mentors and mentees are matched and develop relationships, mentors could obtain feedback from mentees about career aspirations. Mentees involved in advocacy level mentoring relationships may be more likely to seek continual advancement.
CALLS TO ACTION:
- Identity skills gaps
- Set personal goals
- Create time frame to develop skills
- Seek a qualified mentor to guide your development
For Leaders in Decision-Making Roles
- Actively seek out talented Career Girls
- Offer to be mentor
Selecting a mentor is important for all women and men from differing ethnic backgrounds. Mentoring relationships among the same race and gender typically provide the psychosocial support women and people from ethnic backgrounds need in the workplace (Dreher & Ash, 1990). When two individuals share a variety of attributes, including attitudes, interests, physical characteristics, personality traits, aptitude, and socioeconomic status, they tend to enjoy working together more (Dreher and Cox, 1996).