Mentoring offers a variety of career development benefits, for both mentor and mentee
by Brian Gorman
The help of a mentor can boost your career chances, whether you’re starting out or well-established and want to take things to the next level.
It is not just mentees who benefit from such a relationship, according to a Forbes article. “Mentors get the opportunity to develop their leadership and communication skills, gain new perspectives, and an enhanced sense of meaning in their professional lives.”
Women in tech
On 11 October, Ada Lovelace Day – a day that celebrates the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths – trade body Manchester Digital launched a mentoring programme called MentorHER, with the goal of helping women working in tech realise their full potential. Ada Lovelace was a pioneer in computer programming.
The programme aims to encourage women to stay longer in tech, a sector they tend to leave 45% faster than men, according to the Manchester Digital announcement. It includes practical workshops and matches women with suitable partners.
Katie Gallagher, managing director, highlights the issue of retention, not just recruitment, saying that they need to focus on both and “ensure women have the support they need to stay within the industry”.
Alison Ross, operations and culture director at Auto Trader UK, one of the sponsors of MentorHER, is quoted: “When I look back at my own journey as a leader, I can see how helpful it would have been to have a mentor who understood the challenges facing women in technology during my early career. Mentoring is a great way for women to expand their networks and gain advice from other women with experience in the industry.”
CISI Mentoring Programme
On Monday 4 July, the CISI launched a mentoring scheme as a new member benefit. Nearly 500 mentors and mentees have signed up to date. This scheme, available to all members, replaces the previous Financial Planning Mentoring scheme.
The scheme matches mentors and mentees using advanced algorithms and offers exclusive career development and tracking programmes to monitor personal progress against agreed goals. The mentoring platform facilitates a structured exchange of knowledge and experience to benefit both mentors and mentees.
As stated in the September edition of The Review, p.6: “Mentoring can be highly advantageous for all those who participate, either as a mentor or mentee. It provides a real opportunity to gain perspective on a shared area and uncover aspects of your profession you have never thought to explore. By partaking in the CISI Mentoring Scheme, both mentors and mentees will discover that there are several tangible and intangible benefits, some of which are immediate and others that will be recognisable in the long run.”
At a recent CISI member event, Helena Wilson, Chartered MCSI, CISI assistant director, global business development, also identified mentoring as an important factor in supporting equity for women working in Nigerian capital markets.
Focus is key
However, the Forbes article warns that formalised mentorship programmes “frequently miss the mark”, resulting in mentors and mentees “feeling dissatisfied with the mentorship experience” and missing out on potential benefits.
It says that ill-thought out mentorship programmes “can backfire spectacularly” on the firms who use them. Instead of motivating employees, a bad mentorship experience can leave them disillusioned and feeling disconnected from an organisation. This can reduce retention rates.
It advises the following five key steps for successful mentorship programmes:
- Focus on finding the right match
A good match requires understanding the mentee's goals, and, for example, whether they are looking for general guidance or to acquire specialist knowledge.
- Make expectations clear
Both mentor and mentee should be clear about what they are expecting from the relationship and about details such as the frequency and length of meetings.
- Offer sufficient training and support
A strong programme will provide mentors and mentees with training or guidance before they first interact. It will make available support materials and resources, such as videos.
- Be specific
The organisation should set out exactly what it aims to achieve. For example, is it designed to help nurture innovation?
- Make it mandatory
The Forbes article points to an article in the Harvard Business Review, which draws on research that finds that the benefits of mentoring programmes are only fully realised if all employees take it up. It says this might be because those employees most in need of mentorship, and therefore the ones who could have the most significant impact on the organisation overall, are the least likely to voluntarily join such programmes.
The US will be observing National Mentoring Day on 27 October.