The etymology of the word ‘mentor’ is ancient. It springs from Greek mythology when Mentōr, was the name of the person who was adviser to the young Telemachus, son of Penelope and Odysseus, as featured in Homer’s Odyssey.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, the noun Mentor means ‘An experienced and trusted adviser.’ There is a long tradition of mentors supporting and advising people through their lives and careers. These people will in turn mentor a new generation, thus creating a virtuous circle.
Mentoring in the 21st century has moved into the workplace and has developed as a popular way of supporting employee career development in companies. Mentoring goes beyond the role of the line manager or ‘boss’ and is a non partisan function. It looks at the bigger picture and the individual, rather than the jigsaw piece fitting into a puzzle, which is often how employees may feel.
Internal mentoring programmes have in general been set up with the aim to provide the employee with a positive outlook on their current and future prospects, covering but not limited to:
- support in attaining skills, increasing knowledge, developing new attitudes and increasing culture awareness
- encouragement for faster learning and growth—both at personal and professional level
- increased confidence
- access to role models
- greater exposure and visibility within the organisation
- increased feeling of being more valued as an employee
- improved communication and expanded network
Why would you look for a mentor?
According to the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey, 63% of millennials say their leadership skills are not being fully developed, and they see mentoring as a way to help them grow further. The survey also found that those intending to stay with their organization for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor (68%), than not (32%).
Even more among millennials, there is a collective shout to employers to develop them, mentor them, and give them opportunities to lead. Companies that offer their youngest employees the ability to grow within their organization are more likely to hang on to them or prevent job-hopping.
Internal vs. external mentoring
Do company mentoring programmes however really work? Do they offer enough for the mentee i.e. is the advice given and the experience shared not too limited to the views and the interests of the company, and hence does it support sufficiently the objectives of the candidate?
One of the drawbacks of using internal mentors could be the internal / corporate bias brought by the relationship. The shortcomings of internal mentoring could easily be compensated by bringing in an external mentor, i.e. someone from outside the business. Internal and external mentoring are not mutually exclusive. A mentee can work with both an internal and an external mentor, and hence can get a more holistic view of the subjects (s)he wants to be mentored on. As such, s(he) can combine both internal and external views in a meaningful way, enhance the understanding of the personal aspiration of career development or simply the understanding of specific (technical) knowledge
Are there any benefits for the mentor?
Passing on the benefit of your experience is something we all look forward to as we get older. A mentoring relationship is first and foremost to benefit the mentee who has much to gain in experience, confidence, and knowledge. Mentoring can be equally as beneficial to the mentor too. Not only is it fulfilling, it encourages you the mentor to take the time to reflect on your own life, and consider your own lessons as you take the journey into mentorship.
How to get started with external mentoring
When you register on AlgoMe you can choose to be matched to a mentor or a mentee. We will match you to the right individual or individuals. You receive a message from us on AlgoMail and decide whether to accept the match or not. You can start the conversation on the AlgoMe platform, and continue via Skype or meeting in person if you so wish.
If mentoring is for you, register on AlgoMe now to become a member of our community of experienced professionals.