We’re coming to the time of year when the recruitment job boards will be full of technology graduate CVs.
These new professionals are embarking on the first steps of their career journies and in many cases will be new to the world of work. When it comes to choosing which employer to work for, professional learning and development are likely to be near the top of these candidates’ wish lists. Tech candidates today are looking for more than just a salary.
When considering an L&D proposition, mentorship and coaching schemes are critical. Experienced tech professionals are key in supporting the career development of junior colleagues. The support and guidance of a senior colleague is unquantifiable when looking to progress in a career.
The benefits of having a mentor are well documented. Less discussed are the benefits of being a mentor. Being on this side of the relationship often gets neglected.
Should I become a mentor?
So if you’re wondering if becoming a mentor is for you, the answer is almost always YES!
Not only will you benefit from being a mentor, but your input will also help secure top tech talent for your employer.
Here are some of the benefits of being a mentor.
Strengthen your own knowledge by teaching others.
The learning of a new skill, especially a professional one, often is heavily rooted in theory. Once the courses are attended and the material is read, life gets in the way of the practice of these skills. Unless the new skill is one you use as a matter of course, many do not go on to practice what has been learned. As a result, over time the theory is forgotten or goes unused.
Being a mentor and teaching others allows you to solidify the learning through reinforcement. Repetition and rehearsal are key factors in allowing you to complete the learning process.
Even if completing the skill theory leaves you feeling like you have mastered it, there are always new things to be learned through teaching others. Not only do you need to completely understand the theory, but you must also be able to conceptualise the concepts. By speaking these out loud you are able to embed them.
Everyone learns in a slightly different way and looks at a problem differently. Being a mentor allows you to see the problem through the eyes of someone else and requires you to use a perspective other than your own. There are a variety of ways to solve one problem, perhaps your mentee will need you to think differently about what you thought you knew.
Questions your own perspective.
As we have just mentioned, being a mentor requires you to look at a problem through a lens other than your own. Sometimes we become so set in our own beliefs we forget that there may be more than one way to work. Questions from outsiders can help us to look at how we are working and see if there may be a better way.
On the flip side, being a mentor can help us reinforce our practices. Your experience as a senior team member means that you have garnered a bank of knowledge…what works and what doesn’t. Your role will require you to reinforce your best practices, explaining why things work the way they do, and scenarios where they have worked over the years.
Improves soft skills.
If you have been asked to be a mentor, your technical skills (hard skills) are probably on point. However, these are only one side of the coin.
Soft skills are those skills you possess that do not require any tech knowledge. Things like communication, teamwork, and being able to empathise are soft skills that make you mentor material.
Being a mentor requires you to use your soft skills while you are guiding your mentee. Supporting them through an onboarding process or guiding them through a period of change, for example, requires understanding and communication. Teaching a new skill will require you to impart your knowledge with patience and sensitivity.
Practicing these traits through mentorship will make you a more rounded individual and teammate in the future.
Meeting others and building relationships.
We have all had that one teacher, boss, or colleague that we remember forever; one that has inspired us and helped us reach places we never thought we could.
There is no better way to leave a legacy than by showing you are willing to help and guide others.
Of course, your professional work is about the work you do. But it is also about the relationships and those you work with along the way.
Improves your CV.
Being a mentor helps boost your CV should you be looking to move on from your current role. For any position you apply to, there will always be colleagues who are more junior to you.
Having a mentorship on your CV shows that you are a great team player and can be trusted to help others. It also helps to solidify your technical know-how. Being considered experienced enough to be a mentor demonstrates that you have a superior ability when it comes to the skills required to do your job.
When it comes to references from colleagues or endorsements from others, mentees are great contacts. They are well placed to testify to both your hard and soft skills. Well-rounded candidates are favoured by hiring managers over those with technical skills alone.
Mentors do not have to be “Senior”.
Commonly, mentors are thought to be professionals with years of experience. While this is often true, mentorship can take on many guises.
Even if you are a year or two into employment at a company, you may still be in a unique position to mentor fresh grads or new starters. In fact, these colleagues may prefer to have a mentor that is nearer them in age and with experience that is within their grasp. Everyone’s mentorship needs are different and unique to their aspirations.
What makes an excellent mentor?
If you are thinking that being a mentor might be something you wish to pursue, here are some attributes that make great mentors.
- The ability to listen
- Place value on a diversity of perspectives
- Gives honest, constructive feedback
- Able to network well, and make strong introductions
- Has demonstrable success in the role you are currently in, or career to date.
- Generous, and be willing to devote your time to help others
Have you nodded your head to these? Then you are probably a perfect candidate for mentorship.
If you would like to be a mentor, but aren’t quite sure if it’s for you, why not seek one for yourself? This will have untold benefits for you and your career…not least that you can see and experience mentorship in practice.
Ask yourself, what worked for me? What didn’t? Then tailor your approach accordingly.
Future growth, learning, and self-development.
Trying something new and taking yourself away from what feels comfortable is always a challenge. Becoming a mentor and doing both these things will force you to grow both personally and professionally.
Helping others is a rewarding pastime. Your time, expertise, and guidance may prove invaluable to others and inspire them to achieve more. In years to come, they will look back and remember the support you gave them. It is also probable that they will go on to do the same for others based on your example.
It’s likely that your company offers some sort of mentorship program, and if they don’t, why not offer to start one? If there isn’t the capacity to do this formally, you could have a go quietly with a colleague who has serious potential. Your input may make all the difference in the career they go on to have.