Being a mentor is sometimes part and parcel to the work that HR professionals do, especially during difficult times where job security is unknown and the stresses of society weigh heavily on the minds of personnel across the organization.
This can be true whether you’re attempting to mentor a younger person who can derive value from your life experiences, or an older person who could benefit from alternative perspectives and life experiences. But aside from the benefits to that person, being a mentor has benefits for the mentor and the organization as well.
In fact, many companies have turned toward informal training and mentoring as part of their learning and development efforts, with mentors providing an internal SME that understands the dynamics of the organization’s structure, teams and goals better than a consultant or mentor from outside the company ever could.
With this in mind, it isn’t hard to see why HR teams are the ideal group to mentor others. Beyond their holistic understanding of the business and employee roles, their connectivity to leadership and experience in the professional development and conflict resolution arenas will come in handy. You might be wondering though, what’s in it for them?
Why Become a Mentor?
Mentoring provides a number of benefits that touch the areas of personal and professional development and satisfaction. Helping others contribute and realize their full potential is a satisfying experience and contributes significantly to their development. Other benefits include:
- Growing networks of colleagues and building a sense of community
- Driving the use and development of important competencies
- Encouraging examination of the status quo and alternative possibilities
- Renewing ideas and perspectives on one’s leadership role
- Boosting one’s enthusiasm for their role as an “expert”
- Gaining a better understanding of challenges or obstacles that employees at lower levels of the business may be experiencing
- Development of skills in leadership, coaching, counseling, and listening.
Being a mentor has a knock on effect for mental health. By lifting up others and helping them through tough times, mentors are more likely to let someone do the same for them and are better suited to accounting for differing points of view.
In supporting the organization as a whole, HR team members who take on mentor roles aide in the development of high potential leaders, show tangible action in supporting a culture of development and continuous learning and can foster diverse and inclusive environments where collaboration thrives.
Different Types of Mentoring
Being a mentor doesn’t always mean that you sit down in one-on-one sessions on a regular basis, like some kind of corporate Good Will Hunting exercise. The truth is, mentoring can be done in a variety of ways and by a variety of people.
Flash mentoring, for example, uses executives and senior level personnel as mentors in small exchanges that last no more than one hour. The protégé in this scenario actually picks their mentor or the two can be matched at random. Once the pairing is assigned, onus is placed on the mentee to reach out the mentor to set up a meeting where they will discuss the goals of the protégé and how the experience of the mentor can help. After that first meeting, they can decide whether they would like to continue the mentoring relationship and if so, how they will go about that.
In this scenario, the senior person’s experience and advice is at the center of the relationship. It’s the value proposition for the mentee. This differs from other forms of mentorship that can also be effective, such as group mentoring. In this scenario, one mentor is paired with numerous mentees and they all meet at the same time. The mentors job in this instance is to pose questions, listen and get everyone involved in discussion. This way, each individual draws their own learning from each session as everyone’s experiences are different.
Another good example is peer mentoring, which happens among colleagues who are on the same level as one another. In this case, mentoring each other helps to create a support system that can drive professional development and growth, create mutual learning opportunities and improve the sense of community between peers. This type of mentoring is not hierarchical, and it isn’t meant to lead one party to judge, prescribe solutions or evaluate their peers. It’s merely meant to provide support, educate with different perspectives and improve morale