How mentoring others can help you

 You may have considered becoming a mentor but dismissed the idea – you’re already busy, so it probably wouldn’t be worth your time or energy, right? Kevin Lee-Simion investigates why this isn't necessarily the case

In most cases, a mentoring relationship is primarily seen as a benefit to the mentee, but actually, the mentor also has a lot to gain from such an arrangement. We spoke to a panel of experts to find out how they think mentoring others can be beneficial for you.

Gain insights on how to manage different personality types
Chris Dyer, the author of The Power of Company Culture, believes that ‘actively mentoring people with different personal styles can give you valuable first-hand experience to apply in many situations.’

Dyer gives the following example:

‘Suppose two co-workers have similar problem-solving styles, but communication gaps prevent them from working well together. An outgoing person, for instance, might overshadow an introvert. By-the-book types might not appreciate visionary thinkers. You can help them overcome their differences while improving work flows and your understanding of what makes people tick.

When I sense a conflict at my company, we pull up employee personality test results. These tests measure how people think and act, providing a map of how to successfully interface with them. These make good starting points for productive conversations. All a mentor has to do is give team members these facts and let them start talking.’

Refresh your own self-development, learning and reflection
‘I’ve no doubt you’ve heard the Chinese Proverb which says: ‘Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.’ In the process of mentoring others, you reinforce the personal application for yourself’ says Royston Guest,  global authority on growing businesses and unlocking people potential.

‘You publicly endorse and verbalise ideas, strategies and ideas, which to be the authentic you, you have to be implementing and adopting in your own life.

Sometimes, particularly as adults, we slip into the trap of complacency, operating in a state of unconsciousness where it feels like are just going through the motions. It’s the day when you lose your edge and stop being your best self. Mentoring re-ignites that child-like instinct of curiosity and asking the WHY questions, not only to your mentee but also to yourself.’

Alex Moyle, sales leadership expert and author of Business Development Culture reinforces this, saying that he loves mentoring most ‘for the way it helps the mentors embed their own learning and experience by teaching it to someone else. In the process of teaching someone an idea or concept, the mentors learning increased not only through the retrieval of learned material, but through the application of their knowledge to real-life situations and challenges.’ 

Work outside your ‘in-group’
So, do you always need to be an expert in your mentee’s role? Not according to Lauren Touré, Senior Consultant for Frost Included, a consultancy dedicated to helping people understand diversity and inclusion. ‘You simply need to be able to listen, ask questions and offer advice that will challenge your mentee and help them to develop.’

She adds: ‘Mentees often come to you from outside your usual ‘in group’ and you should even make an effort to ensure they do, so you gain new perspectives far removed from the usual, and an invaluable opportunity for self-reflection and development.’

This idea is supported by Patricia Bacon, founder of the Couplepreneurs network.

‘When couples live together and work together, they often have a shared vision and they know that they have each other’s back,’ she says. ‘However, what’s interesting and inspiring to watch is that by bringing other Couplepreneurs together, it gives everyone an opportunity to get a different perspective on the challenges and opportunities, the high and the lows, and this allows them to think about things in ways they may not ordinarily have considered as a couple.’

Improve staff retention
Touré concludes that a winning reason for becoming a mentor is that ‘your CEO will love it! In 2011 a study by Clutterbuck stated that mentoring can increase the possibility staff will stay in an organisation by a third on average.’

Alex Moyle adds that ‘the positive impact is all about creating an inclusive culture where everyone in the organisation has a role in supporting everyone else – whoever you are, knowing that you are helping someone else to succeed feels good.’