Professional mentors: What they are and why they're important to your career

Professional mentors play a critical role in spuring our growth and development. Here's everything you need to know about what they are, their importance, and how to find a professional mentor.

Ryan Carruthers

Published on 

March 1, 2022

Updated on 

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Professional mentors are more than just advisors you can talk to when you run into problems at work. They are key players in your development career goals and can even unlock promotions and advancements. 

What is a professional mentor?

Mentorships are an opportunity for growth and development for both the mentee and the mentor. A mentor will provide advice and guidance to their mentee in a workplace setting, which is often new to the company. A mentee’s role is to bring questions to their mentor about their career and the challenges they face at work.

There is also an aspect of goal-setting and attaining that takes place within the mentoring relationship. A mentee will discuss their goals with their mentor and create a plan that helps them work towards achieving their goals. A mentor can provide clarity and direction for a mentee on this journey.  

Why are professional mentors important?

While not every organization has a workplace mentoring program, 97 percent of people say mentorships are important. Here are just a few of the ways that professional mentors bring value. 

For your career

Mentors can offer you honest feedback on your work performance. Having this type of constructive criticism can help you see where you need to improve. 

The process of mentorship develops a growth mindset where you can feel free to acknowledge areas where you need more work. 

Challenges and obstacles come in everyone’s career, but sometimes it is not always clear how to handle them. Mentees can bring their questions to mentors who can see things more objectively. Although you don’t have to take your mentor’s advice, having someone to talk to about the problems you face can be beneficial. 

Getting to know your mentor can open doors to expand your network as they introduce you to key people they know that can help you along your career journey. Sometimes these new contacts can also give you access to new professional opportunities. 

For employees

Mentorships also help employees in several ways. Some of these include the opportunity to understand the workplace culture better. This can be key for new hires who may need some guidance in their new organization. Employees can also develop their skills and talent through mentorships. 

Research has found there are other tangible benefits to mentorship. One study found that employees who participate in mentoring programs are 20 percent more likely to get a raise. They also found that employees who were mentored are five times more likely to receive a promotion. 

How does professional mentoring work?

Professional mentoring follows four phases. These include

Phase 1: Purpose - This occurs when an employee is at the consideration stage or beginning stages of mentoring. They can see the benefits of the opportunity or may have become aware of a workplace mentoring program. Some employees in the purpose phase may even have identified a potential mentor they would like to work with. 

Phase 2: Engagement - A mentor and mentee start to get to know each other and define their relationship in the second mentoring phase. At this point, a plan is set up that determines when and how meetings will occur, what goals the mentee wants to focus on, and the boundaries and timelines for the mentorship. 

Phase 3: Growth - The longest phase in mentorship is the growth stage. It is the point at where a mentee will start to achieve some of what they’ve set out to do. The growth phase is where most of the work takes place. 

Phase 4: Completion - It’s essential to mark the end of the mentorship and reflect on the growth and learning that took place. A mentee and mentor can get closure through a final activity and offering feedback to the mentoring program administrator. 

Where do you find a professional mentor?

There is no set way that you need to follow to find a professional mentor. Depending on what you are looking for, you can find one in different spaces, such as: 

Your workplace

Inquire about workplace mentoring programs that your employer may offer. These may differ from traditional one-on-one mentoring. For example, they may be a peer-to-peer style or group mentoring. Yet, they can still offer you benefits and growth opportunities. 

Your personal network

Another place where you can connect with a professional mentor is your network. Consider who in your contact list might make an ideal mentor. Is there someone who has particular expertise that you’d like to learn more about? Do you know someone who is more skilled in an area you’d like to develop? 

Your peer networks

You can also consider mentoring opportunities from peers who may have more knowledge or experience in something that you’re curious about. 

Professional communities

There are ample opportunities to connect with a potential mentor through professional communities or associations that you belong to. Simply look around at your next get-together or inquire of the community organizer or leadership and see if they have suggestions. 

Should workplaces offer professional mentoring to their employees?

The short answer is yes. Workplace mentoring offers many benefits to enterprises as well as employees. You don’t need to participate in the program to see the difference it can make. As an organization, some of the benefits you’ll receive from a professional mentoring program are:

Reduced turnaround - one of Together’s customers, Randstad, was able to reduce turnaround by 49 percent. That along can bring secondary benefits such as lower expenses and higher employee morale. 

Improved retention - Keeping talent is another spin-off you’ll see from a workplace mentoring program. When you invest in employees’ growth and development, they’ll feel valued. And employees who feel valued are less likely to leave because they’ll also understand the potential for advancement within your company. 

Onboarding - Getting new hires up to speed with your company can take a lot of time and effort. A workplace mentoring program is a more efficient way to onboard new employees. It can reduce the amount of time and effort it takes to equip them to do their jobs. Research has found that new employees who are mentored perform at a higher rate than those who did not receive mentoring. 

Skill development - Cultivating the talent you already have can enhance your business. Mentoring is one of the most effective ways to develop employee skills. It can create a culture of learning and development that can unlock the potential of your staff. 

Together can help your organization create a workplace mentoring program that allows you to benefit in these ways. Our mentoring software guides you through the entire process, from launching your program to managing your mentorships to reporting on the outcomes.

With our platform, you’ll be able to build a professional mentoring program that allows you to pair mentors and mentees successfully. You can also scale the process at any time. Moreover, you can encourage employees to buy in to mentorship by giving employees the ability to find mentors at anytime. 

Together also allows your program administrator to quickly and easily build reports that measure the success of your program and mentorships. Having this information at your fingertips is crucial to measuring how well your workplace mentoring program is doing at meeting your business objectives.

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