Plenty has been documented about the benefits of mentoring for those who have had the services and support of a mentor. But what of the benefits to me, the mentor?
I ask for regular feedback as a mentor to make sure I understand how I have helped my mentees. This increases my understanding of my model of mentoring and confirms the benefits of mentoring for my mentee, as expressed by them. It also therefore, crucially, helps me continually develop and refine my model of mentoring.
My work over the past three years with SFEDI in facilitating training for volunteer enterprise mentors has enabled me to help others develop their mentoring skills. Part of this process has involved exploring and documenting the key benefits for both mentor and mentee. This has provided me with an insight from many learner mentors as to what the benefits are for them in doing some mentoring.
Here as a result are my top ten most common benefits of mentoring for the mentor:
- Personal fulfillment from investing in and supporting others
- Communication, mentoring (and coaching) skills
- Enjoyment from seeing others succeed and grow
- Feeling ‘valued’ as a role model
- Stimulates my own learning
- An opportunity to take time out and reflect
- Renewed focus on future career opportunities
- Developing new insights into myself
- Gaining an appreciation of the mentee's challenges from their perspective
- Improving my own development and performance
What is interesting and a real delight to know as a mentor trainer and practitioner is that more than anything else, people who volunteer to mentor want to give something back. It's there at the top of the list. Whilst there is no single, universally agreed definition of mentoring, for me this number one factor does get to the heart of why mentoring is valued by both parties and does give some pointers as to what mentoring is too.
"Giving back" does at some level involve altruism, as verified by my trainee mentors who are volunteers, and personal gain, but in this context also involves sharing the invaluable skills, knowledge and experience the "outside person" can bring. It shows that when a mentor is a neutral, non judgmental "sounding board", operating at a high level of self awareness, they use their experiences and skills in the right way, for the benefit of and as determined by, their mentee. This brings the mentee great value and satisfaction, but the mentor too.
I attest to the fact that in my mentoring relationships I derive satisfaction from seeing my mentees succeed (number 3 on the top ten list), and that it stimulates my learning and development as a mentor, coach and trainer (number 5). Most recently it has helped me in my plan for my coaching and mentoring "offer", and I'm going to take qualifications in CBT, Positive Psychology and DISC practitioner in the year ahead.
Good reflective practice is good mentoring practice
Finally, number 10 on the list resonates as well. I use a combination of mentee feedback, reflective practice and learning and development to build and improve my mentoring as a practitioner. If anyone is serious about being a professional mentor or coach then this should be an inherent part of what they do. As Stephen Covey would say, it "sharpens the saw".