By Fiona Donovan, Skills for Justice

The practice of mentoring has become increasingly prevalent across the sectors in which we work. Embedding mentoring with an organisation can help to instil a culture of progress and change.

Three benefits for mentees

1. They get advice and encouragement
A mentor is not there to tell an employee what to do. Instead, mentees benefit from advice and encouragement — with a little nudge here and there to help them on their way.

Mentoring is of particular help to younger workers and people on training and apprenticeship schemes. Employees returning after a period of time off work and those with confidence issues also stand to benefit.

2. They can map out a career trajectory

Having a mentor helps an employee take a big picture view, thinking about themselves as someone on a definitive career path.

A mentor can help a mentee plan for the future and think about where, one day, they could take the skills and knowledge they are currently developing.

3. They can be encouraged to try out a different profession

Mentoring is an effective agent of social mobility — many companies are setting up specific mentoring schemes to show prospective workers their industry is as just as much for them as it is anyone else.

The worlds of law and finance, for example, have long had fairly traditional entry paths — paths that need opening up. Initiatives such as Get In Get On — a matching service for young people interested in careers in finance and legal services — help people develop skills and enjoy mentoring from industry professionals.

Three benefits for mentors

1. They enjoy continued professional development
Guiding and coaching someone effectively is a real skill. It’s not something that can be learned from a two-day training course — it comes from experience.

Mentoring isn’t like managing someone — it’s about offering tutorship and asking insightful questions. So a successful mentor is also developing his or her skills in a new arena.

2. They learn more about the business
A good mentor will have a close relationship with their mentee. This means they’ll pick up any concerns they may have — about their own place within the business or wider issues. Through this, they can gain a better understanding of what’s going on in the wider organisation, feeding back any issues anything to management.

3. They build leadership skills
A good way to prepare an organisation for the future is to develop a team of mentors. Guiding another employee is one of the best ways to build leadership and management skills — so mentors could well be the future of the business.