Mentoring is a critical part of our training, we believe it is vital in helping our Supermums gain the skills and confidence they need to be successful. However being a mentor has rewards too.
Mentoring has become a standard part of the career landscape. Companies from large corporates to eager start-ups have adopted the policy of assigning mentors, and women’s magazines urge career minded women to find themselves a mentor, setting up mentorship as the key to success in the workplace. What’s not often discussed, however, is the other side: what you can get from the mentoring relationship as the mentor. After all, why do so many people offer their time, pro-bono, to others? What’s the other side of this dynamic? What can you get out of mentoring?
Let’s start with the relationship itself: getting to know someone new who is outside your usual circle of contacts. Psychologist Carol Dweck suggests that we fall into two main camps when it comes to mindset. There are those that are in a growth mindset, who are always developing and pushing themselves, and those who are in a set or fixed mindset, who like to stay in their comfort zone. The former group self-report as being happier and more successful in their career and life goals. One of the significant things about people in growth mindset is that they are open to relationships with people outside their usual circle, people who don’t just reflect their own world back to them. Mentoring is a perfect way to experience the growth mindset.
Of course, like all relationships, it will have its own dynamic, and you have to make it work for you. Supermum mentor Sylvaine Boyer suggests “Schedule recurring meetings and allocate a day and time that works for you.”
Mentoring means being there for someone else, sometimes even gently chasing them or calling them out on goals not achieved or sessions missed. Even though the mentee is doing the work, the mentor still has the responsibility of keeping an eye on them, helping them keep their eye on the big picture: a perfect way to hone your leadership skills.
Cementing skills and knowledge
If you are mentoring around a specific subject or task, like our Supermums’ mentors, this is a great way of really embedding that. There is nothing like having someone ask you challenging questions to really help you understand the breadth (and limits) of your own knowledge. One key to good mentorship is being comfortable enough to say “I don’t know, but I will find out.” Mentors don’t have to be perfect!
Likewise, if you’re not working at the moment, perhaps on maternity leave, or between roles, it’s an easy way to oil your knowledge and even learn something new.
Learn about yourself
Your mentee isn’t the only person who will be learning. You’ll also discover what you find easy to communicate and where you struggle. Sometimes, it’s not just the knowledge that you have but your skill in communicating it which matters. This is an ideal way to find out how your skills measure up! Sylvaine Boyer realised that “I learnt how much I had worked to acquire the knowledge I have now. Going through the basics and advanced sessions you then realize how much you went through and it clearly highlight how much you have accomplished and the fact that you should never stop learning.”
Expand your network
Two years down the line, your mentee may be the one to give you the nod that their fabulous employer is hiring. Or they may already be able to introduce you to someone interesting via LinkedIn, or even in person. Each new individual with whom you build a relationship opens the door to a whole new network: it’s the modern key to career success!
Supermums mentor Nitzan Marinov says that one reason she become a mentor to get involved in the community, which she’s done by attending events, and she has encouraged her mentee to do the same. Both of them have benefited from plugging into the community. Nitzan is also aware of the power of a network: “joining a community has raised my profile and the more people that know you, the more people there are who can help you if you’re looking for a new job.”
Connection and reward
Mentoring builds a deep connection, which brings its own emotional rewards, boosting our immune system and feelings of self-worth. Watching someone blossom under your guidance is hugely rewarding in itself, and feeling that they have had some hand in that is a strong motivator for many mentors.
Sylvaine’s mentee also inspired her: “My Supermum was inspiring on how committed she was to complete everything on time, work extra hours after the kids were in bed to finish her assignments, asking real life scenario questions to get some reality checks on some features and see on how she would apply the knowledge and new skill set! Plus, Katharine has 3 kids, I have 1. She also made me realize how much you can accomplish with the right level of drive, and a good structure!”
Deepa Patel mentored our Marketing Manager Abigail: “ I learned that working with her one on one made me appreciate and recognize the impact I was making on her career and life. It is a different feeling of accomplishment and a different level of warmth when you are building a personal relationship with your mentee.”
Let’s be frank, mentoring is a great thing to put on your resume for all the above reasons. It shows potential employers that you are open to new experiences and people, that you are happy to take responsibility and enjoy sharing your knowledge: all great traits of good employees.
However, it is important to understand that pro-bono work like mentoring is an investment. You will be spending time and energy and it’s a commitment that needs to be recognised. If you are struggling with your commitment. Nitzan Marinov suggests remembering that there is a support system within Supermums that can give you support and valuable advice. There is already a structure set up to support you. It’s not fair to embark on a mentoring relationship if you aren’t wholly committed: backing out at a later date is not fair on anyone. That said, if you’re up for it, the benefits of mentoring can be as big for the mentor as they are for the mentee.
Supermums mentor Deepa has this to say for anyone considering mentoring: “Make the commitment and give yourself a chance to make a difference in someone else’s life. It will be hard, but stay focused and you will do well.“