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Can A Mentor Accelerate Your Career?

Date: 23 April 2019

Two women sit on orange chairs and smile at each otherFor professionals struggling to progress to the next stage in their career, having a mentor to show the way can be invaluable. Women, in particular, continue to be under-represented in senior roles and are more likely to be passed over for promotion. Recent data from 50 of the world’s biggest banks, insurers, asset managers and professional services firms showed that despite being the majority of junior staff, only 26% of senior roles were occupied by women. In a wider study, women make up just one-fifth of boards and 16% of executive committees, globally. Recent research shows that 94% of women across a variety of industries feel that mentoring programmes are an important tool for personal and professional development. While many companies do offer formal mentorship schemes, there is still a large number that don’t yet offer it as part of their in-house learning and development initiatives.

Professionals are starting their own mentoring schemes – with valuable career benefits

With such scope for positive impact on their career trajectory, ambitious employees are championing a proactive approach to mentoring - one that benefits mentee, mentor, and employer alike. By initiating their own mentoring scheme, individuals are better positioned to identify a mentor that is not only a good fit, but someone that is accessible, responsive, and invested in their mentee’s personal and professional success.

A mentor shares knowledge, expertise and provides constructive feedback. They help their mentee identify opportunities, and set and visualise goals. A mentor can also make valuable introductions to expand your professional network.

How to choose a mentor and get their buy-in

When choosing a mentor, it is important to select a leader within the business and someone you aspire to.

•           Have they built long-lasting relationships with key stakeholders internally and externally? 
•           Do they have a proven ability to network?
•           Can they work collaboratively and supportively with their peers?
•           Do they always show integrity and strive for excellence?
•           Can they be both strategic and creative?

Determine the qualities that are important to you. An excellent mentor will also show that they are a good listener, a team player, and someone that has become an integral part of the business.

How to begin the relationship

Don’t just ask for the person to become your mentor straightaway – it’s a big ask, so start by asking for an initial meeting. Keep it short and informal – perhaps an hour over coffee. Plan some questions ahead of time. After the meeting, evaluate how it went – could you see yourself spending more time with this person? Does their communication style suit yours? Did you feel you made a connection?

Follow up after the meeting, thanking them for their time – an email should be fine. If all goes well, they’ll be happy to meet again. Read more tips on finding a mentor here

Group of professionals laugh togetherEncouraging male managers to #MentorHer after #Metoo

In the wake of the #Metoo movement, a survey by found that half of male managers are now uncomfortable participating in common work activities with women, including working alone and mentoring. In response, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg launched the #MentorHer campaign to encouraging men to confidently mentor women within the workplace. The movement has gained support from CEO’s including Disney’s Bob Iger and Reed Hastings of Netflix. The #MentorHer movement is undoubtedly beginning to influence how mentorships are perceived, across all industries. Flexibility, adaptability, and openness to enter mentorships with both men and women will help establish greater equality and mutual learning. Mentoring, whether privately initiated or as part of a company-wide programme, brings unparalleled personal support to staff at all stages of their career. The open sharing of knowledge and experience supports best practice, aids motivation, wellbeing, and productivity. To become a mentee is to take control of your career and open yourself up to a new world of opportunity, perform to the very best of your capabilities, and ultimately enjoy a long and successful recruiting career.

Get personal advice to help advance your career

At Selby Jennings, we are always working hard to offer you a great service. Get in touch to find out more about how we can help you find a mentor to help advance your career. Are you interested in improving gender diversity at senior level in your organisation? Download our report today.