Guest Blog by Aliya Vigor-Robertson, co-founder of JourneyHR
Navigating a career and all the challenges and opportunities that come with it can sometimes feel like a minefield. Having a mentor to offer guidance, share first-hand experience or simply act as a sounding board to bounce ideas off is a brilliant way of helping people to learn and manage their goals.
A great mentor has the power to inspire their protégé to try new things, be bold and creative and ultimately strive to achieve their best – all of which are key ingredients for future success.
Successful mentoring relationships not only boost motivation, but encourage loyalty and commitment on both sides. Mentors enjoy the sense of pride that comes with watching their protégé grow and do well, while mentees continue to see their mentors as role models and a key part of their progress. Research has shown that millennials planning to stay with their employer for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor (68%) than not (32%).
Just as companies put careful thought into how they’re perceived by customers and clients, it’s equally important to consider how existing and prospective employees view them. A business’ greatest asset is undoubtedly its workforce and being proactive in creating a culture that cares about its employees’ potential will work wonders for driving talent and recruitment.
Mentors can be particularly important for women. It’s no great secret that by mid-career, the talent pipeline becomes prone to leaking with highly skilled women deciding to change career and others finding themselves juggling newfound family commitments.
Women who do take time out of work to raise a family often face less career opportunities as a result; according to research by PwC, two thirds of women who take a break return to work below their potential. There is so much more businesses can be doing to help women restart their career and this is where mentorship between senior women and their younger counterparts can prove invaluable.
Women in senior roles are in a unique position to share their experience, understanding, guidance and direction. Forging a successful mentoring relationship could make all the difference to younger women worried about floundering in mid-career. What’s more, empowering women by providing strong, inspiring role models will help businesses create a pipeline of future female leaders and improve diversity at a time when it’s never been more important to try and close the gender gap.
For companies who have never had mentors, it might seem a daunting prospect but the benefits of a mentorship culture are vast and offer employers the opportunity to forge a deeper connection with their staff.
Mentorship is not about helping someone achieve day-to-day goals, it’s about helping them focus on the future and their personal development. A good mentor will be patient and spend time getting to know their mentee’s personality and individual traits, rather than leap straight in.
A great way to get started is by spending an hour listening to each other – learning about the other’s background and view of the world can really help shape the relationship going forward. Having an understanding of what makes each person tick, their preferences and their goals, is crucial to be able to work well together and decide what knowledge, advice and practical information will really make a difference. It’s not simply about the mentor imparting advice and guidance; the person being mentored must also be open, honest and willing to listen.
Each mentoring relationship is different, and over time the dynamics may change, but a successful mentorship programme has the power to reap rewards for all involved and have a positive and lasting impact on the overall business.
 The 2016 Deloitte Millennial survey