We started the exploration of what mentoring actually meant to those that are involved in the process – the mentors and the mentees. We reached out to a number of mentors and gathered their perspective on mentoring and what it meant to them. (http://talentc.ca/2016/through-the-eyes-of-a-mentor/)
We now want to share the perspective of a number of mentees who have been in a mentoring relationship and some that still are. Here are some of their thoughts:
“LIFE – one short word which holds so much meaning. With all the highs and lows that come with work, family, etc., it is always reassuring to know mentors can be in your life to assist and help us navigate through these times.
Before I met my mentor, I did not know what I was missing out on with having someone like that in my life. What has it meant to have a mentor in my life? To sum things up, it has made all of the difference. He has brought the right level of patience, understanding, questioning and an active listening at the exact time those attributes were all needed. Knowing someone is always there provides a sense of stability both personally and professionally. I am thankful for the countless hours spent with me and the unforgettable conversations we have had as this has shaped who I am today.” (Jaylene Cousins)
Mentoring can focus on a person’s personal and professional growth or any combination thereof. The value that a mentoring relationship can bring to the professional growth of an individual is enormous.
“I began mentoring with Holly Hobbs in February of 2016 at her workplace.
Mentoring has given me real-life experience knowledge that is sometimes taught in a schooling environment, but not nearly as in depth as in a one-on-one setting.
Meeting weekly with Holly gave me the opportunity to hear about real on the job problems she deals with, as well as the follow-up on how the situations turned out.
Alternatively, I was able to bring to her my own workplace situations and get advice on how they could be best dealt with and give her the follow up on how the approaches worked, or other ways to deal with them.
Having a strong mentor who has been working in the field that I want to continue on in has given me the confidence to speak up to the management team when I believe things need to be changed and also give the advice, knowing that I have knowledge from both the programs at Sask Polytech, and the additional advice from my mentor.
The programs at Sask Polytech are great and focused, but it can be tough to absorb everything being taught and focus on the pragmatic lessons when there are key terms to memorize and exams to be written. Having weekly meetings with Holly focused my learnings and having the advantage of being one on one let me ask as many questions as needed.
The relationship has been fantastic, Holly is someone I can trust to talk to and ask for help when I need it.
The company I work for is great, but having someone ‘on my side’ who can reaffirm the advice I am giving to the managers (as a few of them know her personally) has been immensely helpful in getting my voice heard and lending credibility to what I am saying.” (Amber McTaggart)
Developing a trusted mentoring relationship is crucial to the success of that relationship. Creating that circle of safety where we both share some very personal information and know that it is held in the highest of confidence is what can separate a great relationship from a not so great relationship.
“Through the eyes of a mentee to me means something different than it did when I first met with my mentor. At first I thought I was just going to learn from him, he would teach me new lessons and I would listen to his years of experience and his stories. While all that did, and does, happen, I did not anticipate how close we would become. We share our successes, our troubles and give each other a helping hand when needed. He is the first person I think to email when I’ve had a great time at a conference, when I hear of a new job I could apply for or just to ask how his week is going. He has become someone I will hold in my heart because we have shared so much with each other and I have been honored to become part of his safe sharing circle just as he is in mine. Being a mentee to me now means learning but also sharing, being taught but also teaching in return, and always trying to keep connected with each others lives. A mentor shouldn’t just be someone you learn from; that’s more of a coach. A mentor should be someone you can trust and it’s a relationship that goes both ways. Through the eyes of a mentee, I’ve grown both professionally and personally with my mentors help.” (Jenine Boser)
The “gift of mentoring” can create a continuous learning and development environment. The mentor has a role of play as the guide while the mentee focuses on where he/she wishes to go. Trust in this type of relationship is paramount.
“I am a Human Resources professional and have been working in the field for the past four years; throughout this time I participated in two contracts of a formalized mentoring. The possibility of participating in a mentorship opportunity initially intrigued me because I am a continuous learner and I always want to broaden my skills. Over the eight months that I spent with my mentor I can say this experience far exceeded my expectations. I was able to learn and develop my skill set through listening to and questioning my mentors first hand experiences. My mentor helped challenge my preconceptions by providing hypothetical and real situations and encouraging me to step outside of my comfort zone in determining the appropriate solution(s). She was excellent at pushing the envelope and making me stretch myself to think of different viewpoints. At the beginning of each mentoring contract we would set learning objectives which helped us stay on track and meet goals. We met formally once a week and during each session my mentor made sure to set some time aside to go through any current situations I was dealing with. She was always able to offer support and guidance. It was a great experience because she was able to shed light on diverse thought patterns and courses of actions. I feel like this experience provided me a safe place to express my thoughts/concerns about unique work situations and to enlist the advice of someone who I built a trusting relationship with.
Throughout this relationship I also learnt about possible career and training opportunities available through professional networks. My mentor encouraged me to obtain a professional certification that would challenge myself as a professional, business partner, change agent and as a leader. In winter of 2016 I obtained my International Personnel Management Association – Advanced Certified Professional certification; my mentor helped me select a certification that matched my professional goals and was supportive every step along the way. Throughout this journey I was also able to increase my professional networks. She is a trusting sounding board that has helped support me through various career decisions.
My mentor’s area of expertise in human resources is different than mine. I found this contrast very beneficial. My mentor is very logical and process oriented and exposed me to areas of human resources that I may not have been privileged to work in so quickly in my career if I did not embark on this opportunity.
On a personal note, my mentor has also encouraged me to obtain my individual goals. It has been a ‘bucket list item’ of mine to learn how to knit. My mentor provided me with the information, training and support to help me learn this new skill. I am still learning but very thankful for this support.
Mentorship is a very real experience that encourages me as a professional because it provides an avenue for learning in a non-traditional way. It provides growing professionals with real world experiences and challenges. It fosters a genuine, authentic, trusting relationship between mentor and mentee that cannot be captured through traditional learning methods. Overall the personal and professional growth I received though this experience was amazing.” (Jantina Kowbel)
For a mentee the expectations of a mentoring relationship can be many. Understanding what you want from this relationship will only help ensure that you receive the value that the “gift of mentoring” can bring.
“To me, being a mentee is just like being a mentor. I assume we teach each other things or just talk about life or music whatever it is you like, or go out for coffee or grab a quick bite and build a relationship.
I have had many mentors in my life and I think I have taught them just as much as they taught me and having a mentor doesn’t really mean anything to me. It’s more like a friend that I can ask to help me out in a tough time and to talk me through whatever it is I am going through that day.
It is almost like having a cool older brother or sister. They tell you fun cool tales of trips or places they have been and people they’ve met which I really like. It inspires me to do those types of things and to see the world.
I am not really sure what it means to be a mentee. Maybe it’s like being a little brother, friend or just that, a mentee. But I know that I like to build a relationship with all my mentors and make memories that I can keep close to my heart and I hope they do the same.” (Latrell)
Each of these awesome people have reached out at some time in their life to a mentor. Each has done so with their own unique reason for doing so. Each one has realized the value of embarking on a mentoring journey with their respective mentors. That journey still continues today in most cases. The “gift of mentoring” is a powerful one. It has the potential to create change in people and in organizations – positive change that has enormous value to all involved. You can experience the personal and professional growth as well. All that you need to do is reach out to a mentor today. “Can you afford not to?”