Why mentoring is important for your career

Trying to do great things is difficult. Trying to do them alone is, often, impossible. That’s why all great leaders have mentors. 

Most people who are successful end up that way because they’ve sought out mentors who share knowledge, skills and provide the networks to reach the top. In this blog, we will provide you with the valuable resources and information about why a mentor is so valuable to your career progression.
1. Mentor advantages
A mentor can be viewed as a kind of workplace parent – someone who can warn you against making short-sighted moves that could damage your career and instead encourage you to do those things that may be uncomfortable at first but will reap great rewards in the future.

Experience is a valuable thing. And while there’s no substitute for earning it the hard way, there’s also no rule against leveraging the wisdom of others.

A true mentor will provide honest feedback on how you’re performing and offer suggestions on how to improve your performance. They may also introduce you to people in their own network who can further your career.
Some of the key benefits of having a mentor include:
  •        Improving breath of problem-solving capability
  •        Increased productivity and performance
  •        Increased leadership and management skills
  •        Improved confidence and broader business perspective
  •        Increased networking skills.

2. When to search for a mentor
There is an old saying that when the student is ready, the teacher appears. The 21st-century version is that when you feel you have something to learn – be it technical skills, management skills or even life skills – you’re ready to seek out a mentor.

3. How to find a mentor
People often agonise over where to find an appropriate mentor, but it’s really not that hard. In fact, if you think about it, you’ve almost certainly been mentored throughout your life by relatives, former teachers and sports coaches.

The best way to find a mentor is to simply contact someone you admire who is skilled in the area you want to develop – even if you don’t know them – and ask them if they would be interested in mentoring you. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

If the individual in question is someone you respect, can teach you what you want to know and help you get where you want to be, they’re almost certainly good enough for your purposes, regardless of their location in the org chart, industry reputation or educational qualifications.

4. The mentor-mentee relationship

Like any other relationship, mentor-mentee relationships go through phases. In the early days, there may be a lot of enthusiasm on both sides, with the mentor flattered that someone is so interested in what they have to say and the mentee eager to learn all they can.

Over time, that initial enthusiasm will fade and interactions might become less frequent. And, if the mentor has done his or her job properly, at some point the mentee will have learnt all they can. At this stage, the parties involved may decide to stay in touch or go their separate ways.

However the relationship unfolds, the mentee should always show the appropriate gratitude and respect towards the person who has chosen to help them out.

Here are some FAQs about the mentor/mentee relationship:

What sort of questions can you ask a mentor?

When working with a mentor, it is best to identify the skills, knowledge or specific goals that you want to achieve and communicate. The onus really is on the mentee to maintain some sort of plan which outlines possible developmental activities, strategies and time frames to achieve their goals.
What issues can a mentor help you tackle?  
Although a mentor may assist you in determining the priorities they wish to focus on, the mentor shouldn’t make that decision for you. The assistance provided may change over the course of the mentoring relationship, but could include providing guidance and advice, sharing ideas, providing feedback, acting as a sounding board when discussing potential courses of action or concerns, playing ‘devil’s advocate’ where appropriate, suggest resources to help you improve your career or professional development, expanding the mentees network of contacts.
How do you get the most value out of a mentor?
Mentees should be prepared for their meetings with their mentor, viewing meetings as genuine professional commitments and treat both the mentor and the mentoring relationship with respect. It’s about recognising that it is a valuable opportunity to learn from an experienced professional that is volunteering their time to assist you.
Not everyone is fortunate to have a great mentor or manager. And that’s where tax education is vital to your success. As Robert Campbell CTA puts it: if you don't have that really highly skilled mentor who has the patience, time, perseverance, and the interest to guide you through the tax system, it's really difficult to teach it yourself.  Education can fill that void.
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