Today mentoring relationships are becoming more common amongst professional accountants. This blog will explore the benefits of mentoring and explain how to get the most out of having a mentor.
What is mentoring?
Mentoring is a one-to-one relationship between you and someone with extensive knowledge and experience in your professional field that can help guide, advise and support you to achieve your career goals.
Sometimes this relationship may be a formal one organised through your employer, or it could be through a mentoring organisation or via your professional institute. Alternatively, it may be more of an informal relationship that you have arranged yourself through your own network.
There are advantages and disadvantages of an internal/external mentor so you need to consider who the right person is to help you succeed and then ensure that your mentor has the time to commit to helping you. Sometimes a workplace mentor may have a specific remit to support you with such as helping you keep focused with studies and experience to qualify whereas general mentoring in its purest sense is about your long-term career.
Mentoring can take place in a range of ways both in person or remotely using virtual meetings or social media platforms.
A mentoring relationship will typically involve the mentor playing different roles to support you by offering you guidance, advice and suggestions from their own knowledge and experience. They could support you with advice around technical skills development in your early career, leadership skills or business skills as you progress further in your career. They can also act as a sounding board, someone to think through problems, issues and challenges with as well as someone who may challenge and push your thinking, motivating you and holding you accountable for any actions.
Do I need a mentor?
Having a mentor can have many benefits. Working with the right mentor can help you by allowing you to:
- Seek advice from an industry expert who has the knowledge and expertise to give guidance
- Explore your career options, path and future objectives with someone in the field
- Discover your areas of strength and areas of development through feedback
- Discuss ways to overcome any barriers to your success
- Gain different perspectives when thinking through issues
- Improve your confidence and performance in your role
- Access the mentors network of contacts that could be helpful to your future career
- Gain the support and advocacy of the mentor for future job roles
Choosing a mentor
It is important you have some choice in your mentor. You’ll want them to be someone you can be open with and trust with your personal objectives, thoughts and feelings around your career, as well as being someone who inspires you. When choosing a mentor, you should consider:
- Whether the person has the relevant knowledge and experience to advise you in your career
- Whether you hold the person in high regards, someone you admire or who you find inspirational
- Whether you feel comfortable with the person’s style and approach
- Whether you feel you will be able to be open and honest with the person
- Whether you feel the person will treat information with confidence
- Whether you think the person will be able to offer you feedback to help you learn and grow;
- Whether the person has some experience in mentoring others
You should spend some time meeting together to assess your answers to these questions and ensure you make the right choice before entering into a long-term mentoring arrangement.
For mentoring to be successful you need to enter into it with clear objectives around what you want to achieve from it together with personal motivation and commitment.
Mentoring can be a short-term relationship with regular meetings to support you through a particular challenge or career transition or it could be a long-term relationship throughout your career journey with fewer meetings spread out over a longer period of time. This has to be mutually agreed between both parties and regularly reviewed.
Your career takes different routes and you may naturally reach a point where you are ready to work with someone else or they may feel they have supported you so far and are ready to watch you fly on your own.
For more information about mentoring, visit the ICAEW website.
Written by: Meg Burton
Meg has over 15 years' extensive experience of delivering and facilitating development training in corporate organisations working with leaders and managers at all levels in a wide range of businesses. Meg is a qualified learning and development professional, qualified MBTI practitioner and Executive Coach. Meg has a warm enthusiastic approach, a passion for learning and a desire to make a difference to individuals.
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