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IMA Human Resources Blog

Mentoring – Who Are You a Mentor To?

by Larry Chester

CFO Simplified is an IMA B2B Partner

A key suggestion for all newly minted employees is to “find a mentor.” A mentor can provide valuable advice for a young employee about company politics, work ethic, inner office communications, office etiquette and sometimes even work/life balance. A mentor is often viewed as someone who can help guide you in your career, and therefore someone who is more important early in a career.

If a mentor is someone that only guides you in your current job, that becomes problematic when the war for talent is increasing while an employee’s time at a company is decreasing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that workers 20 – 24 years old have a job tenure of only 1.2 years, and then tenure more than doubles in the next age group, while workers that are 45 – 54 have an average tenure of 7.6 years. So, how do you provide mentoring to someone who is only at your company for 1.2 years? Maybe the problem is defining who you should mentor.

Mentoring is a lifelong process, not just one for new employees. Experienced employees need mentoring and guidance as much as younger workers. For many people, their lack of a mentor didn’t hold them back. Their personal need to achieve drove them to their ultimate success. So, if you didn’t have a mentor, did you want one? Did you feel that you would have had less stress with someone more experienced (not necessarily older) guiding you?

Mentoring is an educational experience. You get to see the world through someone else’s eyes and emotions. Your opportunity is to provide a filter through your experience. And, that mentoring experience can not only be industry-specific, but job and interpersonal related as well.

Your ability to mentor comes from your experience, otherwise known as your “company smarts.” As a mentor, your first job is to listen closely to what your mentee says. They might not come right out and tell you important things. It’s up to you to get a sense from their tone and their word choice to understand their frustration or their uncertainty. By asking more questions, to clearly define their issues, you will be able to sincerely provide them with guidance that will be meaningful to them, and quite possibly put them on a new path.


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