Should you find yourself a mentor?
According to Harvard Business Review if you’re looking for rapid advancement and a higher salary then you should find yourself a mentor. Irish jobs noted that, mentees are more likely to get promoted, and more likely to receive a pay increase. Studies also identify multiple personal benefits for both the mentee and mentor, including better work-life balance and improved self-esteem. According to Deloitte’s Millennial Survey, mentoring programmes are also a win-win for employers as they improve retention rates through increased staff loyalty.
What is a mentor exactly?
Mentoring means different things to different people. Mentoring overlaps with coaching, but isn’t consultancy or counselling. Confused? According to the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC), mentoring is “… a learning relationship, involving the sharing of skills, knowledge, and expertise between a mentor and mentee through developmental conversations, experience sharing, and role modelling. The relationship may cover a wide variety of contexts and is an inclusive two-way partnership for mutual learning that values differences.”
In 2020, Harvard Business Review found that mentoring programmes were offered in more than 70% of Fortune 500 companies. The Review of Business Mentoring Services in Ireland, conducted by Forfás, found there were 175 organisations offering a wide range of mentoring programmes in 2014. These programmes included a range of mentoring models: One-to-one mentoring, group mentoring, peer mentoring, E-mentoring, reverse mentoring and speed mentoring.
What does Mentoring look like in Practice?
Most organisations are unlikely to offer multiple models or consider which model suits the mentee’s learning style. Furthermore, according to Harvard Business Review, many mentoring programmes underperform due to marginal mentoring – the result of untrained, busy or uninterested mentors. However, marginal mentoring, can be avoided through mentor training, offering a variety of mentoring models, and by allowing mentor and mentees input into the pairing process. The Irish Management Institute facilitates “no blame divorces”, as a mutually beneficial relationship is fundamental to the success of all mentoring programmes.
Ready to transform your life and career?
We are surrounded by mentoring programmes. The relationship between a mentee and mentor is critical and typically lasts a significant length of time. So, do your homework before contacting someone to be a mentor. Consider your goals and musts-haves beforehand. Mentoring as opposed to coaching is often free. While you might think your manager would make a great mentor, consider how open you can be with your manager and how open they can be with you in turn! Significantly, Forbes propose that although your manager could be your mentor, they shouldn’t be your only one. Subconsciously, they could block opportunities because they want to retain a good employee.
A good place to start the search for a mentor is by reaching out to the HR Department. If there is an existing programme, read-up on how to apply and what it entails to ensure you’re comfortable with the process. If there’s no formal programme, it’s worth checking if your HR Department will pair you with an experienced Senior leader within the organisation. For those in a start-up, apply to join the Mentor Network at Enterprise Ireland, the Mentor Programme in your Local Enterprise Office or MentorsWork delivered by the Small Firms Association (SFA) and Skillnet Ireland. Another route to consider is peer-mentoring. This might be a friend you graduated alongside or a past colleague. Peer-mentoring should be a mutually beneficial relationship, ensure you give your peer time to discuss their goals too.
Could you be the mentor?
If you’ve got the energy, experience, passion and listening skills then perhaps you should start discovering the mentoring options around you. Remember, mentors also gain from the experience! Look for mentoring opportunities within your company, or for voluntary mentoring roles, such as DCU’s Structured Mentorship Programme or maybe mentor senior cycle students with basis.point. As discussed, the most successful mentoring programmes train their mentors. If training isn’t included, perhaps consider upskilling with an accredited European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) certificate, diploma or postgraduate course.
I have been both a mentee and a mentor, these relationships have been incredibly valuable and impactful. Mentoring has helped me develop my self-reflection, encouraged mindfulness, supported proactiveness and prepared me for transitions. Within each phase of my life, success has looked different to me. This can be confusing, daunting but also exciting. My training, combined with support from mentors, has helped me navigate conflicting priorities and career changes.
Thoughts from others on their experience of mentoring:
Gay White, Mentor on DCU’s Structured Mentorship Programme, says: “I think the biggest testament to the programme is when your mentee calls you up years later out of the blue to tell you how they’re doing. I’m actually meeting one this Friday for coffee. I also love to see the mentees becoming mentors; I think that’s really a big nod to the programme.”
Roshni, on her experience of Mentoring at McKinsey, says: “My McKinsey Mentor and I met on a project. She taught me how to set stretch goals and supported me as I strove to achieve them. She showed me being a woman is a strength I can tap into on my consulting journey. She’s one of the first people who helped me realize I shouldn’t apologize for wanting balance in my life. We’ve kept in touch, and she still helps me calibrate and prioritize some of the feedback I receive.”
Oprah Winfrey “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.”
LinkedIn Deirdre Tinnelly
Deirdre is currently the Education Specialist in the Centre for Education and Lifelong Learning in NCI. She has over 10 years’ experience teaching across schools in both the UK and Ireland. Whilst teaching, she was a mentor for both student teachers and qualified teachers. She studied advanced mentoring and took part in action research to improve the mentoring process in her school. Her early career was as a digital marketer. She is a DCU Alumni twice over. In 2021, she completed the Postgrad in Management (Business) and is also a Bachelor of Business Studies. She is passionate about Education, Lifelong Learning and Self-development.
Join a Mentor Programme:
• Basis.point: Support and Mentor senior cycle students
• DCU Alumni Mentorship: The DCU Structured Mentorship Programme
• Enterprise Ireland: Mentor Grant
• Irish Management Institute: Network Mentor Programme
• Local Enterprise Office: LEO Mentoring Programme
• McKinsey: Mentorship at McKinsey
• Small Firms Association (SFA) and Skillnet Ireland: MentorsWork Programme
• 30% club Ireland: Cross-Company Mentoring
• Ibec Academy: CPD Diploma in Coaching
• Irish Management Institute: Professional Diploma Executive Coaching
• European Mentoring and Coaching Council: Accredited Coach/ Mentor Training Providers
• UCD Michael Smurfit School of Business: Diploma in Advanced Business & Executive Coaching
Further reading on Mentoring:
• Art of Mentoring: What is peer mentoring?
• Deloitte: The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey
• Forbes: Reverse Mentoring: What it is and Why it is Beneficial
• Forbes: The Key To A Strong Peer Mentoring Relationship Is Honesty
• Forbes: Why your boss Shouldn’t Be Your Mentor
• Forfás: Review of Business Mentoring Services in Ireland
• Harvard Business Review: What Great Mentorship Looks Like in a Hybrid Workplace
• Harvard Business Review: Why Your Mentorship Program Isn’t Working
• Harvard Business Review: Why Reverse Mentoring Works and How to Do It Right
• Irishjobs.ie: How to Implement a Mentoring Program in the Workplace
• RIBA Speed Mentoring Toolkit
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