You have probably heard that it’s important to have a mentor. But, how do you find the right mentor? What exactly should they help you with? You’ve probably also heard that it’s rewarding to be a mentor. But, do you really have the time to dedicate to someone else’s development? What if you’re not going to be good at it? The truth is that mentoring is really good for mentors and mentees – about 100 years of research says so. Still don’t know how to get started? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. This week, I’m giving you reasons to find a mentor and reasons to pay it forward yourself.
Receiving Mentoring Gives You a Ton of Benefits
First, no matter what your job, you should find a mentor. Why? Because receiving mentoring gives you a whole host of positive life and work outcomes. In fact, across 116 samples, a meta-analysis found that having a mentor makes you more satisfied with your work and more motivated on the job. Mentoring also drives perceptions of support, so you feel like you are a member of a community, instead of just a cog in a wheel. It also makes you feel more equipped to do your job.
All of this makes you less likely to withdraw or act out at work. It also makes you more likely to help your fellow colleagues. Even better, mentoring makes you less stressed at work, adding to your wellbeing. Finally, it enhances your self-esteem and self-efficacy. In the end, this all increases your performance and your career outcomes. So, basically, if you have a mentor, you feel better about yourself and your job, which decreases strain and makes you more effective. Sounds pretty great, right? That’s why you need one!
Mentoring Is Also Really Beneficial for Mentors
Just as with mentees, mentors also reap a plethora of positive work benefits. Across 18 studies, a meta-analysis found that mentors are more satisfied and committed than those who don’t mentor others. Specifically, those who provide mentoring to others that is “psychosocial” tend to have more wellness-related benefits compared to those who don’t. They also have better attitudes compared to those who mentored others, but just provided career-related mentoring (e.g., networking, job skills).
Psychosocial mentoring involves building up someone’s confidence and making them feel more strongly rooted in who they are. While mentors perceive themselves as being more successful in their own careers when they help others progress in theirs, they only reap well-being benefits when they make others feel good. So, the take home message is that mentoring others can make you feel more productive and happier, because you’re helping others to do and feel the same.
What Should You Look For in a Mentor-Mentee Relationship?
Across almost 41,000 employees, meta-analysis shows that mentees perceive mentoring relationships as most successful when they share the same values, beliefs, and personality traits as their mentor. This doesn’t mean that you need to find a clone of yourself in order for mentor-mentee pairs to work out. What it does mean is that you’ll be more successful as a pair if you have some common ground. Do you care about the same things? Do you get excited about similar ideas or topics? These similarities may help you to better communicate. It may also help you to feel that the advice and guidance you are sharing or receiving is more helpful. Importantly, this goes both ways – mentors who are looking for mentees want to think about finding someone who shares their values as well!
However, it is important to avoid mistaking deep-level diversity (what someone believes and values) for surface-level diversity (what someone looks like). So, it’s important to get to know someone before you decide to mentor them or vice versa, instead of guessing at what they might be like. I suggest a mentor-mentee interview meeting, with no strings attached, to assess whether the relationship might be a good fit from both perspectives. The more you know about your mentoring partner before you sign on, the better!
Finally, career and psychosocial support are both important, but for different reasons. So, it’s good to look for someone who can give you both as a mentee. As a mentor, it’s important to be ready to provide both. In other words, you need to talk about how to get ahead at work and how to build networks. But, you also need to talk about personal challenges that have to be overcome. When it comes to excelling in your career, it’s not just tactical. It’s also emotional. A good mentoring relationship is practical and meaningful at the same time.
We’d love to hear from you! We have talked about the importance of social support before. Who has been your most important mentor or mentee? Why were they important to you or your career? Share with us below!