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Mentoring Matters

13 May, 2017

Some of the world’s most successful organisations implement mentoring programs because it works on so many levels; from training new employees, building brand culture, retaining and developing talent and increasing loyalty and morale. So, if your organisation doesn’t have a mentoring program in place, you should start one.

Whether you are the CEO or an entry level worker, mentoring is open to all. If you are CEO implement a mentoring program and if you are just starting out nothing is stopping you from seeking out a mentor and making it work.

Eighty percent of CEOs claim they’ve had a mentor that helped them avoid costly mistakes and become proficient in their roles faster. It’s nearly always been described by participating individuals as beneficial.

Ignite CEO Julian Sallabank has been involved in mentoring programs his entire career, as a mentee on an informal basis and as a mentor for University Masters’ students and for the Foundation for Young Australians.

“Being a mentee and a mentor is extremely rewarding,” he says. “Whether I’m learning from the perspective of former bosses who are older and more experienced and can offer the value of hindsight or from younger people who challenge my perspective and propose that social value sets may have changed, I gain tremendous insight.”


Here are some of the more rewarding elements of mentoring for both parties:

Knowledge is Power

At the basis of mentoring is the sharing of knowledge. Knowledge sharing has been part of the success of the startup business landscape, but it applies to all businesses and industries. Mentors impart their knowledge but also share insights into their industry and expose a different, more experienced point of view.

Building Contacts

Mentoring can introduce a whole new world of contacts and connections. Mentoring attracts like-minded people, in a non-judgemental space, to talk through fresh new ideas. It can also connect your friends and work colleagues to each other with new ideas to talk about and projects to join and influence.

Paying it Forward

Many mentors feel obligated to, or appreciative of, a former company or boss that helped them along the way. Mentoring within their chosen organisation is a common way of “paying it back” and paying it forward. An old school or college alumni could benefit from your experience and knowledge of an industry or management skill.

Passion is Contagious

Fostering talent is a rewarding process and passion is contagious. Mentoring interested individuals can renew an interest in work and industry and might see something differently.

Right Wrongs

Mentoring can be a chance for mentors to ensure their own business mistakes are not repeated. Instead they can be examined to be used as an example of what not to do and why. For some mentors this can be extremely cathartic and a rewarding way of empowering the mentee.

Getting Started

Types of Mentoring

Mentoring can be highly structured or informal, long term or project based. There are three basic types of mentoring; One on One, Group or Team Mentoring and Reverse Mentoring, a type of mentoring where senior executives get to tap into the pool of millennial talent or general subordinates, bringing to the table the wealth of knowledge from all levels of people in the company.

Reach out to complete strangers and business people you admire.

Put your fear of rejection behind you. The best mentors are the ones you’ve always admired Approach them and see what happens. Most approached mentors will be flattered and if your proposal is promising, you have enthusiasm and show signs of not being a time waster you’ll most likely be pleasantly surprised.

You can have more than one.

Depending on what you need to learn there should be mentors for different times of life and different issues. Not all mentors will know everything. Some mentors can help you devise a larger financial strategy or some can offer advice for career progression or problem solving.

It’s a two-way street.

Mentors will walk away if you don’t listen and don’t activate the agreed ideas. Be prepared to change and don’t expect them to the do the hard yards. There’s no room for hand holding in this relationship. Make it clear on how you want to see it work so addressing these issues will help:

  • Frequency, timing and location
  • Confidentiality and privacy
  • Establish an agenda
  • Length of relationship
  • Goals and aims
  • Honesty how to receive honest opinions and feedback

Warning! Mentoring is not Favouring

If you’re thinking of becoming a mentor within an organisation’s mentoring program beware not to favour instead of mentor. One case is when men mentor other men they can act as sponsors or lobbyist for their mentee to be fast tracked to a great job or a promotion. While this is usually orchestrated innocently, it further entrenches ‘boys club’ factions within otherwise great companies. Direct reports can be mentored, but in larger companies it’s worth noting that mentoring works best when partnerships are allocated with different verticals in the company and with different genders.