The Remarkable Benefits
If you serve in an organization, whether for profit or not-for-profit, then you have likely heard a good bit of buzz about mentoring. In this age of online memes and viral videos, it’s easy to imagine it’s much ado about nothing. But mentoring happens to come with some verifiably remarkable benefits – and not just for the protégé, also known as the “mentoree” or, as it has become more commonly known, the “mentee.” As we think you will agree, mentoring has the potential to benefit everyone involved.
With that, a foundational question before proceeding is, What is mentoring exactly?
According to Michael Page, a professional recruiting firm, “The role of a mentor is to encourage the personal and professional development of a mentoree through the sharing of knowledge, expertise and experience.” In short, it is when an experienced person in an organization directly imparts a wealth of information, person-to-person, to someone with lesser experience or education. It also might be framed as personal education gained in a one-to-one environment, like the online education offered by Northcentral University (NCU).
According to NCU’s Dr. Georgia Grantham, Associate Director, Faculty Support and Development, School of Business and Technology Management, “We know that success rarely occurs without the knowledge and support of others. And mentoring definitely makes a positive difference.”
Grantham continues, “One-to-one mentoring at Northcentral University is about building relationships of trust, providing academic support and exposing students to real-world experiences. Because every student is unique at NCU, our mentors provide quality feedback that inspires, teaches, and challenges students to achieve their personal and professional goals.”
Mentoring Promotes… Promotions
Amplifying Grantham’s take on mentoring is a research study by Sun Microsystems. After following the careers of 1,000 of their employees, their human resources department concluded that both mentors and mentees get “promoted faster, and enjoy more salary increases.” Per their study, mentees experienced five times the promotions of employees without a mentor; mentors actually fared even better, experiencing six times as many promotions as those who do not mentor others.
With Sun’s internal study and Grantham’s positive view of mentoring fresh in mind, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of mentoring for the mentor, the mentee, and for the organization to which they are associated.
A number of publications have reported on the significant benefits of the mentoring process. Among the items below, you will find hyperlinks to several of those which were used as resources for the content of this blog article. Those resources are Mentoring.org, Durham University, U.S. News & World Report, Management-Mentors.com, Houston Chronicle Online, and CNN.
“One-to-one mentoring at Northcentral University is about building relationships of trust, providing academic support and exposing students to real-world experiences.”
—Dr. Georgia Grantham
Benefits for Mentees
- Develops a supportive relationship.
- Offers professional development; as mentors communicate their experience on many levels to their mentees it serves as cost-free professional seminars.
- Increases scope of understanding regarding the organization.
- Assists with problem solving.
- Improves self-confidence.
- Provides advice and encouragement.
- Facilitates critical feedback in key areas, such as communications, technical abilities, and leadership skills.
- Provides relevant skills and knowledge.
- Access to a network of influential personnel.
- Socializes in light of the organization's culture.
- Offers a friendly ear – or a much-needed shoulder.
Benefits for Mentors
- Provides an opportunity to hone interpersonal skills.
- Offers increased personal satisfaction.
- Passes on your own experience to another.
- Encourages reflection on practice; while imparting information to the mentee things that have been taken for granted can be reviewed.
- Requires consideration of your own business practices.
- Improves your own job satisfaction; there is an inherent personal satisfaction that comes from helping the mentee and seeing how it impacts everyone else.
- Fosters professional relationships.
- Improves the condition of your industry; no matter where time and tide take the mentee the mentor can be confident that they have made a wider impact.
Benefits for the Organization
- Fosters retention; mentees have someone they can turn to whom when they hit inevitable rough patches during their employment.
- Improves team efficiency; the personal element of mentoring can improve process implementation.
- Empowers personal development.
- Enhances individual performance.
- Encourages commitment to the organization; regardless of other issues a mentee might face, having someone who is committed to them fosters commitment to their mentor.
- Improves communication; this, again, is a function of the depth of personal relationship formed by mentoring.
- Enables faster induction of new staff; imparts and reinforces company culture and protocols.
- Safe haven for freer exchange of new ideas; mentors and mentees can bounce ideas off one another without fear of embarrassment or loss of the ideas.
Mentoring Goes Electronic: E-mentoring
And for those of you who might work from home or cannot find a willing mentor where you are, there are also avenues for gaining a mentor online. Mentoring.org's "Benefits of Mentoring” includes a section on the means and benefits of online mentoring. They write, “[E-mentoring] makes mentoring available to mentors and young people who otherwise might not be able to meet easily because of time or travel constraints.” CNN offers a fuller exploration of e-mentoring in their article "The emergence of e-mentoring.”
Resources for plugging into online “e-mentoring” include iCouldBe.org and various other e-mentoring portals in states such as in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Search online for e-mentoring sites in your area, if that is of interest.
In the end, as NCU’s own Dr. Grantham put it, mentors and mentees must build “relationships of trust.” As Scottish novelist George McDonald (ca. 1877) opined, “To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.” With this view on the nature of mentoring, it makes perfect sense that it would have its benefits, and many of them.