Following the success of Mentorship month in January, we wanted to reflect on the benefits of mentorship, especially for young professionals.
Mentorship can be a career game changer. If you’re fortunate enough to have been mentored early in your career, you understand the positive impact it had on your professional journey. Maybe your mentor shared their knowledge and experience, taught you new skills, gave you valuable advice or simply took the time to listen when you needed it the most.
Although the pandemic makes traditional meetings more challenging, it shouldn’t prevent companies from offering mentorship opportunities to their employees. The virtual workplace also created new ways of connecting with people regardless of time zones and location and if you provide communication channels, mentorship activities can keep going. Good mentorship can make a huge difference professionally but also at the personal level, something important to keep in mind in the current context.
Why you should value mentorship
Mentorship is a strategic retention factor. According to a Harvard Business Review article “Mentors play a pivotal role in safeguarding retention and building organizational commitment, particularly in times of crisis. Research shows that when mentors are actively engaged with mentees, those mentees form stronger emotional bonds to the organization, report higher job satisfaction, and perceive greater support from the organization.”
What to look for in a good mentor
While all leaders focus on performance, not all leaders focus on mentoring, which is all about guidance and professional development. To ensure you find the support you need, consider other experienced professionals within the company whose skills and backgrounds match your career aspirations. Another option is to look for leaders, outside of the company. Regardless of where the mentors come from, they should all possess essential qualities that will ensure a successful and productive relationship with their mentee. Effective mentors must be:
- Available, consistent, and committed to developing their relationship with their mentee.
- Willing to share their successes but also their learnings.
- Able to provide knowledge and advice that will foster their mentee’s growth and confidence.
- Able to communicate, listen, and relate.
- Open-minded and prepared to discuss other aspects of their mentee’s life.
- Demonstrate authenticity and vulnerability!
How to find a mentor
Before you approach a mentor, you will need to decide if being part of an in-house mentorship program will add value in terms of your guidance and development or if it makes more sense to have a mentor outside the company, offering more privacy and perspective. You might also want to consider experiences of other professionals who have benefited from a mentoring relationship. Barbara Boyd, VP Communications and Board Member of the American Marketing Association (AMA), Toronto, shares the following testimony about her relationship with her own mentor and the benefits she gains from it: “What she provides is a sounding board that has turned into a motivating, interesting and productive monthly discussion, that I look forward to. I didn’t realize just how much I counted on our meetings until the pandemic interrupted them. We reconnected this past month – calm conversation and connection – a perspective I needed at an incredibly uncertain time.”
If you decide to connect with mentors from outside your organization, an obvious place to start is LinkedIn but you can also reach out through industry associations such as the AMA, professional networking events, and online mentoring seminars or workshops.
If you’re a young professional looking for more information about mentorship or seeking a mentor from outside your organization, you should consider the American Marketing Association’s Career Accelerator. Inspired by the AMA Toronto Mentor Exchange program, the Career Accelerator was created to meet the needs of young marketing professionals looking for an opportunity to grow their career. AMA Toronto’s mentorship programs are the largest and longest running marketing mentorships in North America. As well, this year, they have the exciting opportunity to have Scotiabank as their title sponsor for the Mentorship portfolio. Career Accelerator is currently in its fourth season and accepting applications until March 5, 2021.
Mentors help professionals build more successful careers and are key assets for any organization looking to retain talent and foster a sense of belonging and purpose in its employees. But most importantly they connect people, a vital aspect of our lives as human beings that we very much need right now.