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Two women having coffee

Mentoring might seem like a one-sided deal on the surface. You put your heart and soul into training a new hire, you meet with them and provide resources, you answer questions. It all seems very time-consuming and, perhaps, a little annoying, BUT what if I told you mentoring is not a one-sided deal? What if I told you both parties—you and your mentee—benefit from your relationship?

Note: Ultimately, mentoring is about building up confidence and skills in another person. It’s not a selfish act. As a mentor, you’ll put in a few extra hours and some extra effort. A good mentor truly cares about nurturing and guiding their mentee.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few benefits for you! If you’re on the fence about mentoring, these 3 unlikely benefits might push you toward doing it:

1. It’s a chance to set a precedence

If you think the office is in need of some changes, you can set a new precedence with your mentee. If you think there’s too much gossip, a poor work ethic standard, or too many people handing in their assignments after they’re due, NOW is the time to start changing that. Helping instill good habits in your mentee not only helps them in the long run, but improves the office overall.

2. It can reveal knowledge gaps

One of the best ways to prove you know your stuff is to explain what you do to others. If you find you can’t answer all your mentees’ questions or cannot fully explain a certain aspect of your job, that might mean you need to brush up on that particular area.

By the way, if your mentee stumps you with a question, don’t fudge an answer. That’s doing both of you a disservice. Instead, use this as an opportunity to deepen your knowledge and learn something new.

3. It builds your reputation

If you volunteer to be a mentor, you’re demonstrating that you’re willing to go the extra mile to help the company. You also position yourself as a leader—someone who knows their stuff well enough to tutor others. Building this kind of reputation is not only good for your standing in the office, but also makes you more promotion-worthy.

Aside from the benefits I listed, mentoring can be a rewarding endeavor in itself. Helping someone learn and grow within your company is the kind of valuable work that can’t be assigned a price. Mentoring might give you a few personal benefits, but ultimately, it’s about building the competencies and instilling confidence in a new co-worker.

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Hands holding a seedling
Image via Pixabay

Striking out fresh in any career comes with its own set of challenges. If you’re lucky, you’ll enter into your industry with a few contacts and entry level skills before having to navigate where to look for employment and how to distinguish yourself from a large pool of talent. While this generation of young people are capable workers in their own right, young professionals don’t have the benefit of having experienced an industry for a decade or two like their superiors. Mentoring others provides a unique opportunity to fill in the gaps for these workers and offers many rewarding benefits:  

1 . Better Outcomes and Relationships

Mentoring, like tutoring, is an interpersonal skill. When people feel their voice is heard and being encouraged to grow, they are much more likely to remain engaged with their work and voice concerns more confidently. Any time you can foster better feedback from your team, the stronger the team becomes.

2. Reputation

Building a reputation as a mentor in your industry can become a distinguishing part of your career. Often, companies seek to draw upper-talent from pools of candidates that are known in professional circles to be helpful leaders and actively collaborative. Mentoring your employees demonstrates both of these skills easily and clearly, particularly for mentors who’ve done so throughout their career. As the adage goes: “You get back what you put in.”

3. Professional Development

Just because someone can benefit from the guidance of a mentor doesn’t mean they’re without skills to bring to the table. New workers, especially young people, often come with the proficiencies or strategies needed to approach new technology or use new software. You can take advantage of the personal relationship you strike with your mentee to have them teach you how to effectively use these tools. You both walk away more competent.

4. Networking

Life is long and careers often take unexpected twists and turns. The analyst that started at your company five years ago may quickly rise in the ranks of the industry to a sector you’re interested in doing business with or simply learning more about. The more people you can foster a mentoring relationship with, the wider you cast your net across the next generation of leaders. These relationships may end up among the most important in your working life.

5. Personal Fulfillment

Any teacher can attest to this last benefit. Mentoring is an opportunity to open yourself to others whose perspective may be entirely different from your own. Learning from one another about subjects that extend beyond the scope of your job will enrich you personally and professionally.

Mentoring others is essential to bridging the gap between generations of workers. Stepping up to help guide colleagues through this process will not only reward your mentee and yourself, but your industry as a whole. So take a leap and share what you know!


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volunteerism and purposeThis past Tuesday, I headed to Kraków, Poland to work as a volunteer for World Youth Day (WYD). This worldwide event takes place every three years and is a gathering of like-minded youth who value service, love, and faith. The festivities are actually held over the course of a week, so the name World Youth Day is a little deceiving. During my time in Poland, I will be mentoring youth from my hometown of Stillwater and volunteering my services to help make WYD 2016 a success.

It will be a long, tiring trip (among thousands of youth!), but I’m certain it will be worth it. I have found that any time volunteering is NOT time wasted. Volunteering is one of the things in life that keeps me energized, motivated, and (most importantly!) gives me purpose.

I firmly believe that the path to a happy life is to find a purpose. For me, that means spending time giving back to my community and the world at large. Even in my work as a career coach, I try to give back to my clients. I approach my work with the mentality, “How can I help YOU?”

Part of the reason I became a career coach was because I wanted to give back. After retiring from my career at 3M, I knew I wasn’t finished. I had spent nearly 30 years building up a skill set, and I wanted to share it with others!

For many people, retirement doesn’t mean “quitting,” it means opening up a new chapter of your life and giving back in different ways. I am reminded of a story I heard of a couple that retired, purchased an RV, and began traveling around the country. After only a month or two, they began to grow bored and anxious to do something more meaningful. At the same time, they also realized that they kept bumping into other retired couples who were doing the same thing—traveling around the U.S. in their RVs. That’s when they were struck with the idea to form a volunteer group with their fellow travelers and do something meaningful at each of their stops.

They decided to work with Habitat for Humanity (since nearly every city has a local chapter) and formed a group called the “Care-A-Vanners.” That group spends one or two weeks in each city they visit, building homes for those in need. And, since they are traveling as a group, the Care-A-Vanners have developed meaningful relationships, while at the same time utilizing their talents and making a difference.

Having volunteered several times through Habitat for Humanity, I am aware of the profound impact their projects can have on other’s lives. My husband (who is a carpenter by trade) and I frequently travel to Clarksdale, MS to help with Habitat’s building projects and we often see and reconnect with the same group of people. I even have a pen pal in Clarksdale—a young woman who I mentor. You might say that we’re accountability partners for each other! I help her focus on her dream of going to college and she reminds me of the very real impact of volunteering and spending quality time with another human being.

Do you know your life’s purpose? If you’re having trouble nailing it down, I challenge you to try volunteering. There are so many causes that need your help—environmental, educational, political, social justice—that you’re bound to find something that motivates you and gets you excited to make a difference.

Let me know how your purpose-seeking is going! Write me a note in the comments section, or send me a message. Happy volunteering!


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