I always appreciate mentorship programs, not only because of the value they provide the mentee (a possibly fictitious word that I’m going to use to mean “one who is being mentored”), but the great value that they are able to simultaneously provide the mentor. Having been on both sides of the equation many times before, I may even go so far as to say being the mentor may actually be more of a useful learning experience.
For the mentee, mentorship provides substantive value in that it allows for them to have a sounding board and an outlet to feel like their voice is heard. It gives them (hopefully) independent, unbiased people to talk to about whatever may be of concern to them, and get valuable feedback from another experienced lens.
For the mentor, mentorship provides a great way to hear things from another person’s perspective. It allows for them to gain insights and observe thought processes for other (typically more junior) individuals. And in an age where everything is changing seemingly all the time, that can be invaluable information.
There is something to be said for helping someone air concerns, talk strategy, or generally discuss life events or work activities. One of the greatest qualities I think we all can have as members of society, corporate citizens, or friends in friend circles is the ability to listen. And that’s what being a good mentor is all about: the ability to listen, understand another person’s situation, and respond with something constructive or useful for that individual. Often times, the conversation or net outcome is something that both sides can index in their memory bank to recall moving forward. Then, in the future, there is a reference point from which to start when dealing with similar situations. Some of the wisest people I know are not wise because of anything they personally have done in a vacuum. Rather, it is their ability to always recall in vivid detail a relevant story to draw on which provides the best “Aha!” moments for everyone involved.
One final point: age really is nothing but a number in this case. I have seen several mentorships take place where the person being mentored was in fact older or longer-tenured in an organization. And that is not a bad thing! These types of relationships and mentor arrangements can be equally as valuable as any other more “traditional” setup.
As always, hope you enjoyed the quick thoughts.
Til Next Time,