Updated: Oct 31, 2022
Oprah Winfrey often speaks about the positive influence her mentor, the late Maya Angelou, had on her life, both professionally and personally. She once said that she doesn’t think anybody can make it in this world without some form of mentoring. Oprah is only one of many world-renowned individuals that have been outspoken about the life-changing benefits of mentorship; the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Tyler Perry, Nelson Mandela and the fictitious Harry Potter have all also benefited from some form of a mentoring relationship.
According to a report by Forbes, 84% of US Fortune 500 companies have mentorship programmes, 90% of US Fortune 250 companies have mentoring programmes, 96% of US Fortune 100 companies have mentorship programmes, and 100% of US Fortune 50 companies have mentorship programmes. The statistics above speaks to the significance of mentoring as a principal tool for growth and development professionally.
WHO IS A MENTOR/MENTEE?
A mentor can be described as an individual with ample life and professional experiences who is willing and able to commit to the personal growth and development of another person - a mentee. Mentors pull from their life and professional experiences to act as role models and serve as a support system for their mentees. They give constructive feedback, act as a sounding board or voice of reason, give life and career advice, challenge limiting beliefs, share valuable life lessons and follow up on their mentee’s progress to bring out the best in their mentees. Professionally, a mentor helps a mentee to learn more about the business, network, learn new skills and become more successful in their career.
A mentee, on the other hand, is a person that has identified a personal goal and believes they need the help of a more experienced individual to reach their goals. Mentees are expected to have clear goals, be teachable, be respectful of the mentor’s time and resources and ask for feedback as required. Nonetheless, mentees should not be overly dependent on the mentor as mentors are not life coaches, but rather their role is to provide advice, encouragement and support as needed.
CHOOSING A MENTOR
Now that we know what it means to be a mentor/mentee, the next question is how does a mentee choose a mentor, and what criteria should we consider before we select a mentor? At first however, it is vital to answer the all-too-important question of why you want a mentor in the first place.
For this piece, I decided to speak with friends to hear about their experiences on mentoring. For them, their mentors are experts and successful persons in their fields, individuals assigned from mentoring programs, people with similar values and in some cases, people that take an interest in them. I went further in asking how the mentorship relationship started. Some said they reached out to people in similar fields and out rightly asked to be mentored by them, whilst for others, the mentorship relationship developed naturally. In support of my friends' responses, a study by Olivet Nazarene University in 2019 reported that 81% of people have mentors in similar fields, 14% of their respondents asked someone to be their mentor, and 61% of the mentor/mentee relationship occurred naturally.
An important point to note is that it might be beneficial for a mentee to build a relationship with a mentor before the mentoring relationship even begins. Making moves such as engaging with their work on social media, requesting their feedback on your work, attending their events and starting an insightful conversation are a few ways to set up the stage for a successful mentor/mentee relationship.
A few things to consider before choosing a mentor are:
Look for people with similar interests and values
Set a goal and a realistic expectation for the mentoring relationship
Decide to be committed to the mentoring process
BENEFITS OF MENTORING
Some benefits of mentoring to mentees include providing skills development, positioning for opportunities, career growth and progression, mental health stability and moral and ethical guidance. On the other hand, mentoring can also be beneficial to mentors; a study conducted by Harvard Business Review found that people who served as mentors found more fulfilment in their jobs than their counterparts. Furthermore, a workplace happiness survey reported that more than 90% of individuals with mentors are satisfied with their jobs and 57% were very satisfied with their jobs. On top of that, a global study of business women and mentoring reported that 67% of the women attested to the fact that mentoring played a vital role in their career advancement. Finally, a survey of CEOs in mentorship programs reported that 84% of CEOs said mentors helped them to avoid costly mistakes, and 69% reported that mentorship was instrumental to them making better business decisions.
The countless benefits of an impactful mentorship have made mentorship one of the most well-known tools for professionals to kickstart their careers and for career growth and progression. A good mentoring relationship is arguably one of the most beneficial relationships for career and personal development.
However, as much as we all believe that mentorship is beneficial, it is also vital to know that there is no one-size- fits-all approach. Mentoring is a personal journey between two individuals, and no two relationships are the same. Generally, for a successful mentor/mentee relationship, both parties must put in the work to ensure that the relationship is effective; the mentee must be teachable, humble and open-minded, and the mentor should be accessible, honest and able to provide an objective point of view.
Interested in mentoring? Check out our mentoring scheme here.
About the Author
Ifeoluwa Oyelade is a Clinical Research Associate at Reliance Clinical Limited by day and a 'healthy living advocate' at all times. She is the creator of Health and Wellness joint on Instagram, where she enlightens her followers on healthy living practices to live a wholesome life. She enjoys Yoga and watching movies.