Are you professionally successful and have you achieved your first goals? Now would you like to take the next steps and are you already busy planning? Surely numerous experts have helped you along the way and you should consider whether you want to give something back and pass on your knowledge to a young person as a mentor?

What is mentoring?

Mentoring goes back to the historical roots of Homer’s Odyssey. When Odysseus had joined the campaign against Troy and left his home in Ithaca, he asked his friend Mentor to take over the education of his son Telemachus. This was one of the first historical mentions of mentoring.

According to the Google Mentoring is one: Advice and support from experienced specialists or managers.

Benefits of being a mentor

The advantages of mentoring are manifold. I would like to name a few important ones that motivate me every day.

  • Mentoring enables you to give something back. It creates a very good feeling and I believe in karma anyway (spiritual concept according to which every action inevitably has a consequence): If you do a lot of good, you get a lot of good in return.
  • Mentoring trains you as a mentor. You can keep practicing listening actively rather than passively. This is a very important quality that will make you an even better leader.
  • Mentoring increases your self-esteem. Especially in difficult times, you realize that you are important and needed.
  • Mentoring strengthens your ability to enter into, develop and expand interpersonal relationships. You can improve even further by empathizing with others.
  • Mentoring helps you reflect on your career. Why? On the one hand, the mentee asks you a lot of questions and, on the other hand, you encourage the tips you give the mentee. You bring a lot back to your mind.
  • If you are not a manager, you can coach new employees and thereby improve your leadership skills and also use this as an argument in the employee appraisal.

Mentoring process

The mentoring usually works in such a way that you simply speak to the mentee in a relaxed atmosphere in the first few weeks. I always keep it very informal and the mentee can ask me their question. This usually helps immensely.

I tried the more structured variant with minutes and goals for the conversation, but found it stiff and forced. I always ask the mentee to know exactly what he wants to know. We usually go through the following phases:

  • Define professional goals / direction (1-5 meetings)
  • Recommend concrete steps to get there, try them out and reflect together (5-15 meetings) – accompanying the mentee
  • Introduce important network partners (if necessary)

My Tip: Mentees should approach you. Just look for suitable candidates at professional events or in the office and offer mentoring indirectly.

I did it that way

I myself started actively as a mentor in 2015. I wanted to give something back and also reflect on myself. I had a lot of mentors myself and was very grateful. I have made up my mind to use 1 day, i.e. 8 hours, to give something back every month.

I started with students in a career program at my university. For one year I gave selected students tips on starting a career in consulting. I still do that today.

Effort: 2 hours of mentoring once a month in a cafe.

I then supervised numerous bachelor and master theses during my doctorate. So I coached numerous students, so to speak. Meanwhile I do too Phone appointments and help students continue. In this 1h coaching I help the students with a very specific problem. There are usually no follow-up appointments.

Effort: About 3 hours per week by phone

I have been a manager myself for 2 years and have recently started helping young managers with their first steps. I meet the young executives at business events and in the office.

Effort: approx. 3 hours per month

Conclusion

The big advantage is that you learn a lot of skills through mentoring and also reflect a lot on yourself. You learn to be even more stable in your own role and also appear more confident in everyday life and thus also rise faster yourself. I myself invest around 8 hours a month in mentoring, which is exactly 1 working day. I think this is a good guide.

My tip is: You should support other people as a mentor, but you should always have your own mentor. Reading tip: Find a mentor

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Image-Source Titlepicture: Fotolia.de 2016 – buyed License

Dr. Dominic Lindner
Author

I blog about the influence of digitalization on our working world. For this purpose, I provide content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday professional life. I am an executive in an SME and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the Chair of IT Management.

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