IAN FERGUSON: Reaping rewards from mentorship

Mentorship is not a new term in our corporate environment. For centuries we have had formal and informal mentors teaching, training and preparing the next generation of leaders. Mentorship is typically defined as the relationship in which a more experienced or knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. In the traditional sense it is an employee training system under which a mentor is assigned to act as an advisor, counsellor or guide to a junior or trainee. The mentor is responsible for providing support to, and feedback on, the individual in his or her charge. Many companies of varying sizes have developed systematic and structured mentorship programmes where the culture is so well shaped that senior leaders understand their primary role to be the development of new and emerging leaders.

Here are the key reasons why every company (irrespective of size) should develop a mentorship system.

There are rewards for the Mentor and the Mentee

The mentor as tutor increases self-learning and builds personal competence through the simple act of explaining processes and procedures to junior team members. There are many lessons learnt and acquired skills in communication, managing generations, problem solving and others passed on in the mentor-mentee relationship.There is also an overwhelming sense of pride that a mentor has when he or she witnesses the metamorphosis of fledging leaders.

It fosters a multi-generational company culture

As mentor and mentee develop their own relationship, they help create and perpetuate a positive company culture that combines the best qualities of the individuals regardless of their age. Most workplaces are still struggling with bringing together the four generations. Mentorship beautifully combines “Boomer Leaders” with “X- Managers” and emerging and talented millennials. Each has something to learn from the other.

It helps in connecting an expansive network

Another reason it is great to have a mentor is that it connects the mentee to a professional network to which he might never have been exposed. Personal introductions are powerful career collateral, especially for someone just starting out. But a mentor can also write a recommendation for their mentee’s LinkedIn profile that all the world can see. And he can send out invites to corporate trainings, employee mixers and industry conferences that will help his protégé connect to the right people. Leaders must consistently open doors of opportunity for those they mentor.

Reducing stress and anxiety

Having a reliable sounding board in the office can reduce job anxiety and stress, and every leader should have an understudy specifically hand-picked to filter thoughts, ideas and suggestions. We all make mistakes and we do not always meet our own goals. When that happens in work it can be extremely worrisome. A mentor can help you see the bigger picture, can help make you understand that a single mistake is not going to cost you your career, and can help you improve what you do in the workplace so those mistakes become fewer and fewer.

NB: Ian R Ferguson is a talent management and organisational development consultant, having completed graduate studies with regional and international universities. He has served organsations, both locally and globally, providing relevant solutions to their business growth and development issues. He may be contacted at tcconsultants@coralwave.com.