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The Importance of Mentoring for Career Development

Ten best practices for becoming a better mentor


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Did you know that 75 percent of executives say mentoring has been critical to their career development? According to a recent survey from the American Society for Training and Development, these relationships are invaluable in helping to make important professional decisions.

Streetwise Partners, which uses the power of mentoring to reduce unemployment in disadvantaged communities, found that 53 percent of unemployed mentees find employment after 13 weeks and another one-third are employed after one year. 

Benefits of mentoring

When I reflect on my own career, I have benefited from the counsel of many important informal and formal mentors who have provided meaningful insights that have helped me look at opportunities and obstacles from a different perspective.

Mentors can have a powerful impact on a professional’s career, providing feedback and guidance that complements what they receive from their supervisors and/or their project managers. Through formal and informal national and local mentoring initiatives, more than 10,000 employees and partners at KPMG are engaged in about 22,600 formal mentoring relationships across the firm.

Best practices to become a better mentor

The importance of mentoring can’t be overstated, but it’s not always clear how to be a mentor.  It’s generally not a subject taught in schools, and if it’s taught in business, it’s usually on a sporadic basis. Generally speaking, it’s a “learn by watching” skill, which has both advantages and disadvantages. 

KPMG and Streetwise Partners developed these 10 best practices for becoming a better mentor:

  1. Set expectations

The most successful mentoring relationships have agreed-upon expectations and goals.Be transparent about what you can bring to the relationship and what you hope to get out of it!

  1. Mutual accountability

Trust and accountability are the foundations of any successful mentoring relationship. Hold your mentee accountable to set goals. By the same token, make sure you’re practicing what you preach.

  1. Celebrate milestones

Recognize small achievements along the way. This is a great way to keep your mentee excited and engaged.

  1. Empower, don’t solve

Most mentors are amazing problem solvers. But great mentors empower their mentees to find their own solution to a problem or challenge. Sometimes, the journey is more important than the result.

  1. Be intentional in your investments of time and energy

Mentorship requires intentional investments of time and energy. The more you put in, the more successful your mentoring relationship will be. Often, the mentor will learn as much as the mentee.

  1. Know your worth – and your limitations

Don’t question whether you are qualified to be a mentor – what you may take for granted might be invaluable knowledge to someone else. At the same time, it’s also important to recognize your limitations and seek out advice and support when needed, which is a great way to model problem-solving skills.

  1. Provide opportunities for growth

Ensure that you provide genuine and honest feedback in a supportive manner.Conversely, be open to receiving it.

  1. Respect differences

Your mentee’s path may be entirely different than yours, so try not to make assumptions about their experiences, goals or skills. Work with your mentee to recognize how their unique backgrounds and experiences shape their perspective and can be leveraged.

  1. Learn from each other

When sharing knowledge and advice with your mentee, ask them questions about their point of view, insights and perspectives. The best relationships happen when a mentor and a mentee can learn from each other.

  1. Open doors

You have great connections that could benefit your mentee. To help your mentee learn and grow, introduce them to people in your network who could provide insight on how to be successful in their chosen field.

                                                                                               

Mentoring comes naturally to many executives, but with a little structure, experimentation and commitment, these relationships can benefit both the mentor and the mentee. Happy mentoring!

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Mike Bearup

Mike Bearup is the office managing partner at KPMG LLP. With more than 30 years of experience in the Colorado marketplace, he provides audit and business advisory services to the technology, biotech, software, manufacturing, medical device and venture capital industries. Bearup works with a number of audit committee members on corporate governance matters.

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