Why Should I Mentor?
It makes business sense. The demand for skilled women professionals has been growing steadily. Companies cannot afford to lose their top talent. Mentoring is crucial to a company’s ability to remain competitive by retaining and promoting their best employees. Research shows that mentoring leads to higher job satisfaction, career advancement, work success, and future compensation. Employees who are mentored are less likely to leave the organization.
Mentoring also plays a powerful role in getting young employees up to speed on the organizational culture, accelerating their integration into the organization and enhancing their effectiveness.
Who Should Be a Mentor?
Any woman or man in a position of responsibility or influence may be the right mentor for a technical woman. It is important that a mentor be committed to leveraging the talent and furthering the career of protégées. A good mentor:
• Recognizes how a diverse workforce enriches the organization’s “gene pool” from which creativity and innovation spring.
• Is aware that women in technology face additional barriers to advancement and is dedicated to further breaking down these barriers.
Is my protégée ready
Your protégée is ready if she:
• Has ambitions to advance and increase her contribution to the organization
• Is interested in being mentored • Actively seeks constructive feedback and acts on it • Is able to commit time and effort to professional growth • Is willing to explore new behaviors and skills
The best mentoring relationship results come when the protégée “owns” the process and drives activity toward the results. If your protégée is not able to clearly articulate a goal for the relationship or has trouble creating the meeting plan, have her prepare accordingly before you start into formal mentoring.
What Are the “Dos” of Mentoring?
These tips are designed to help you think about what mentoring is and is not.
Do: Be clear on where the line is drawn between your responsibilities and those of the manager.
Do: Agree on goals for the mentoring relationship from the outset, and put them in writing. Frequently go back to your goals to measure progress.
Do: Act as a colleague first, an expert second. A know-it-all approach to mentoring is intimidating and will limit your successes. Strike an open and warm tone so your protégée will feel she can ask you difficult questions and take risks. Listen as much as you speak so her questions and aspirations are always the central focus.
Do: Set realistic expectations. You can provide your protégée access to resources and people, but make it clear you do not wield your influence over others. You may be a senior executive but that does not mean you fix problems for the protégée – you coach as you can but the protégée does the heavy lifting.
Do: Keep a time limit as part of the goal, and evaluate your progress periodically. Every mentoring relationship has phases – including the end to formal mentoring. This doesn’t necessarily mean the end of your relationship, but a change in how you interact and how often.
Do: Remember that mentoring is a process with a goal. Have a fun relationship but don’t get off track and lose sight of goals.
Do: Expect high performance from the protégée and accelerate her learning. Research suggests that the most beneficial mentoring is based on mutual learning, active engagement, and striving to push the leadership capabilities of protégées.
Do: Listen, listen, and then listen some more. Hear the concerns of your protégée before offering advice and guidance. Establish trust and openness in communication from the start.
Do: Strive to protect the protégée from what you see as major professional errors or missteps, but also leave room for her to learn from her own experience and mistakes. Remember that a successful mentoring relationship is one where the protégée eventually advances and no longer needs your support. Make sure the protégé is not overly dependent on your advice.
Do: Recognize that the protégée’s goals are her own and that she may have career goals that differ from the path you chose. Your role as a mentor is to guide; it’s up to the protégée to decide what to implement in her career.