During the last few years, mentoring in the workplace has become a strategic priority. Today, we have four generations in a workplace where organizations are still recovering from the economic downturn. Companies are focused on staying competitive in the marketplace, running lean on limited resources and hiring and retaining top talent.
Mentoring in the workplace is not only a great way to promote staff development but it also helps employees learn about company culture, customers, core business processes, critical business systems, programs and projects.
We asked our friend Naomi Caietti, project management consultant and global leadership development expert, to tell us more about mentoring – and how it enhances careers.
LiquidPlanner: First, what exactly is mentoring?
Naomi: Mentoring is simply creating a pathway to someone’s desired future. For a more formal definition: Mentorship is a mutual symbiotic relationship where an experienced person helps a mentee set important life goals and develop the skills to reach them. Informal mentoring can range from reviewing a resume or goals at Starbucks to a more formal workplace mentoring program that ties real life work, culture and stretch goals to a strategic plan initiative for succession planning and workforce development.
Group mentoring is also another approach. This occurs among your peers, where you mentor collectively on business process, projects and culture.
LP: How is mentoring valuable to your career?
NC: There are many rewards that come from mentoring in your workplace and your community. Here’s a short list of benefits:
- Sharing your knowledge and expertise with others
- Sharing unique experiences and lessons learned
- Being a part of a person’s growth and development
- Helping someone achieve career goals
- Establishing employee engagement in the workplace
- Using the mentoring experience when promoted into leadership roles
It would seem that the person being mentored would gain the most benefit; but recent studies have highlighted mentor benefits, too.
A 2013 article entitled “Career Benefits Associated With Mentoring for Mentors: A Meta-analysis” (from Journal of Vocational Behavior by Ghosh, R. & Reio, T.G) found that individuals who served as mentors in the workplace achieved far greater job performance, career success and commitment to the organization.
Another study led by Catalyst in 2012 found that being a career mentor led to career advancements worth $25,075 in additional compensation between 2008 and 2010.
LP: If you’re looking for a mentor how do you go about choosing one?
NC: You want a good fit with the following qualities: industry knowledge, shared values, mutual respect, personal connection, good communications skills, an active listener, open and nonjudgmental. Hopefully your great mentorship experience will inspire you to pay it forward and go on to mentoring up-and-comers yourself.
Also, consider social media and professional associations for virtual mentoring via a PMI community of practice, LinkedIn groups, connecting with #PMOT (Project Managers on Twitter) and twitter chats like #PMChat.
Here are some more ideas of where to look for mentors, or people to mentor:
- From within your organization.
- Through a local chapter of the Project Management Institute or another professional affiliation.
- In your circle of trusted friends.
- Through a mentor matching association or program.
Remember, you don’t have to pick just one mentor. You can have several! For example, you might choose a mentor in your professional field; a mentor from within your organization who can coach you on navigating office culture and politics, and a mentor who can coach you on core skills or leadership.
January is National Mentoring Month so what better time to consider how mentorship can help you and your organization achieve your personal, professional and strategic goals.
Naomi Caietti is a global speaker, strategic advisor and contributing author of “The Project Manager Who Smiled.” She is a credentialed project management professional (PMP), thought leader and subject matter expert for wwwProjectManagement.com. Naomi is a member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) and has over 27 years of project leadership in the field of information technology working with private, public and nonprofit sector customers and clients in California and abroad. You can visit Naomi’s website at The Glassbreakers and follow her on Twitter at @califgirl232.