When you think about ways to move your career forward, HR workshops and leadership development seminars are likely to come to mind. You may be surprised to learn that mentoring is also a great way to advance your career. The benefits of being mentored can range from developing knowledge and gaining experience to learning a completely new perspective on your career and life. And being a mentor can have unexpected advantages as well.
A good mentoring relationship needs to be based on trust and respect, so if you are looking for a mentoring counterpart, search for someone who meets those criteria. A mentoring relationship can be beneficial to both parties. For mentees, the benefits are obvious, but for mentors, sharing their knowledge and experience can have unforeseen positive results. They say that you don’t really know what you know until you teach it, and the perspective of a younger or less-experienced colleague can give your career a boost as well.
Here are some ways in which mentoring can help professionals advance in their careers, no matter which side of the equation you’re on.
- Improve communications skills. Mentoring relationships have been shown to improve communication skills for all involved. And for an HR professional, this is a crucial asset for career growth. After all, you’re on the front line of communications between a company and its employees. No matter where you are professional, working on communicating more clearly and effectively is always beneficial, and mentoring can help you hone those skills since it will be crucial for you and your mentoring partner to understand one another for the relationship to work.
- Learn new perspectives. When you are building a mentoring relationship, remember to be open to new perspectives. Your mentor or mentee may be from a different background or culture. They may have experience in a different industry than yours. They may also be at a different level in their careers. In any case, you are sure to bring different perspectives to the table. Learning from new perspectives is a great way to stay ahead of the curve within the human resources industry and can give you the edge to advance your career.
- Build your network. Professional relationships are important for many reasons. When we want advice or when we’re looking for a new position, we turn to our network. No matter where you are in your career, mentoring is a great way to network. As your mentor or mentee, that person becomes a member of your network. And depending on how your relationship progresses, you may meet other professionals in your mentor/mentee’s circle that will continue to grow your network, widening the circle of contacts by helping you meet more people in HR and learn from their experiences.
- Develop leadership skills. Especially for those in a mentor role, mentoring is a great way to develop leadership skills, which in turn can help you on the job. Being a mentor and guiding someone, helping them understand concepts and explaining procedures, is a great way to show your managerial potential. For mentees, observing how your mentor interacts with you is a great way to learn leadership skills by modeling yourself after them and learning from their mistakes.
- Share valuable advice. It’s obvious that a mentee will gain good advice from a mentor, someone who has been in the HR trenches longer and knows the ins and outs of the field. But you may be surprised to learn that it also works the other way. Younger, perhaps newly-graduated colleagues are more likely to be tuned in to the latest technological developments–especially social media. For a seasoned professional, gaining access to this information and advice can be critical to keeping abreast of HR best practices today. As a mentee, think of your mentor as a sounding board, someone you can bounce ideas off of and who you can reach out to for professional advice and ways to move your career forward.
So if your company doesn’t have a mentoring program in place, consider starting one up. You can set up connections with a limited duration or a small amount of contact at first, to ease people into it. Then, if the results are positive, you can expand the program. Positive word of mouth and beneficial short-term experiences are the best way to build the foundation for a program that can benefit all sectors.
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