The Case for Mentoring / Coaching

By Sue Hornblow, Key Performance Group.

I find it interesting that most successful people tell stories about those people who have been influential in their career development. They have learnt valuable life lessons from these people. Frequently these relationships are informal, sometimes not. They may be fleeting, but more typically they are sustained over time. What they all have in common, is that as a result of the relationship, valuable learning occurred that had an enduring impact. Throughout life we learn from others, so it makes sense for our career and personal development to seek out mentors and coaches who believe in us, to act as guides and challenge us to fulfil our potential.

A Wikipedia definition of a mentorship is “a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital, and psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development.”

According to Gallup research. “Having someone at work that cares about you as a person and encourages your development is positively correlated to productivity”. A mentor may be your manager or another senior person who has an interest in helping with your career development.  A mentor does not have to be limited to someone in your firm. Ideally a mentor should be a person who has extensive skills knowledge or experience in the areas you want help with or wish to develop and the ability to coach. This could be in a technical area or interpersonal skills development. This implies that before selecting a mentor you need to consider what areas of development you want to focus on.

In many instances a mentor seems merely be a formality, a requirement for professional certification, or happen by chance. When I asked on a LinkedIn group about peoples experiences with a mentor I heard a lot of powerful stories. These reinforced the value of having a mentor.

If we agree that having a mentor or a coach is valuable, then why do we put little or no effort into having a mentor or being a mentor? It almost seems like a good idea, but left to chance more than planned.

In my next blog I will share some of my thoughts on the differences between mentoring and coaching and ideas for establishing a high value mentor or coach relationship.

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