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Why it’s important to develop mentoring relationships in business

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It may come as little surprise that according to Roy Morgan Research, recognition is the main source of job satisfaction for Australians.

The data revealed that of those who are in paid employment, 55.3 percent are satisfied with the recognition they get at work and 93.3 percent said that they are satisfied with their job overall. 

Indeed, the benefits of professional recognition and taking the time to mentor professionals is perhaps more evident now than ever before as companies are increasingly adopting flatter structures with less defined hierarchy and employees of all levels are assuming greater responsibility. 

A solid mentoring relationship is one of the most effective ways to empower and motivate people. It is not unusual for an inspiring mentor to influence the decisions that a professional makes throughout their career and if you ask many senior executives, they will probably tell you that they regularly liaise with their mentors to seek advice and discuss key issues. As such, here are some key considerations for those looking to step into a mentoring role or develop a mentoring relationship: 

Transparency is key 

A successful and lasting mentoring relationship is built on trust and being transparent, non-judgemental and discreet is critical to building rapport. 

It is really important to be honest and a key consideration for those looking to step into a mentoring role is to acknowledge that no professional, however experienced or senior they are can have all of the answers. A good mentor will set a framework to help professionals make considered, informed and balanced decisions and once a mentee has accepted that being afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing is futile, they will actually feel empowered to take measured risks and step out of their comfort zone. 

Encouraging regular feedback to evaluate and improve the mentoring relationship is also crucial to its success and it will help to encourage open communication. 

Foster innovation and new ways of thinking 

Mentors are not there to teach mentees, be directive or provide the answers to their problems. Essentially, their role is to act as a sounding board and to ask the right questions. 

Mentors will often implement strategies to help people see things from a different perspective and listening and asking open ended questions will go a long way to guide and help mentees solve problems for themselves. 

It is also essential that mentors strike the right balance between supporting their mentees, while simultaneously challenging them so they remain motivated and a framework is in place to support decision-making. 

It can often be beneficial to engage mentors that sit outside of the mentee’s networks and organisations. Working in a different sector can help to break down boundaries, encourage honest dialogue and it also provides a fresh outlook.  

Set your own rules 

Unlike a professional coach, a mentoring relationship often lasts for a long period of time and the agenda is usually set by the mentee. It doesn’t need to be a formal relationship and mentoring meetings are usually unstructured, where the mentor usually takes a broader view of a person, rather than focusing on specific areas and issues. 

A great mentor is a flexible mentor 

Each individual contributes a unique set of characteristics to a role or indeed organisation, so mentors need to adapt their approach to each individual. It is likely that mentors will have more than one mentee and each relationship is unique – what may for example apply in some cases, may not work with other mentees.

Mentors also need mentors 

Effective leadership evolves over time and it is fair to say that mentors, regardless of what stage they are in their career, also need their own mentors to seek advice and progress professionally. It can be helpful to attend professional training programs and it is really beneficial for mentors to interact and share best practice with other mentors so that they can discuss scenarios and potential solutions to challenges. News_Why mentoring is vital_Barry Thomas

Barry Thomas is the Vice President and APAC Managing Director of Cook Medical Australia. Barry has more than two decades of international leadership and expertise in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries and he currently spearheads the world’s fastest growing region for Cook Medical. His current position sees him working to expand the opportunities for people in Asia to access Cook Medical’s advanced and minimally invasive medical devices. 

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