Much has been said recently about the benefits of having a mentor and the positive contribution mentoring makes to one's personal and professional development. But what about the benefits for mentors? What's in it for them?
As it turns out, quite a bit.
Mentoring is an excellent opportunity to understand what makes younger generations tick, especially the elusive Generation Y. Reverse-mentoring enables mentors to learn about emerging technologies, such as social media, in nuanced ways. For instance, how can we reach younger generations through social media without being patronising?
Mentoring a younger person offers a highly valuable goldmine of market research to tap into.
It's important for all leaders and managers to stay in touch. Mentoring someone from outside your organisation is a healthy opportunity for constructive reflection about your management style. Why not use the opportunity to workshop hypothetical scenarios with your mentee and genuinely take on board the value of a fresh perspective, often lacking in ivory towers and highly hierarchical organisations.
Mentoring is renowned for its capacity to build networks and spot future talent. Today's graduate may well be tomorrow's powerful executive or future client, accompanied by a powerful network of contacts. Mentoring sews the seeds for future professional relationships and generates personal referrals based on trust and goodwill – now that's advertising money can't buy!
Of course, mentoring someone can be a highly rewarding experience in an altruistic sense. I have had the privilege and pleasure of mentoring a number of young female law students over the last few years, especially through Victorian Women Lawyers' Law Student Mentoring Program. To watch a young woman develop self-confidence andgrow in ability is a wonderful pay off for the time and effort spent mentoring them.
Mentoring need not be laborious or take up much of your time. I've found a monthly or quarterly face-to-face catch-up, with intermittent emails in between, to work very well. Above all, a genuine, shared commitment by both mentor and mentee is the key to a successful mentoring relationship. And the benefits for mentors are potentially just as lucrative as they are for mentees.