By Robyn W. Porterfield and Bob Rose, Co-Founders, Rose + Porterfield
Today’s employees are looking for connection to their workplace, learning opportunities, and career guidance. Formal mentoring programs fill that need, but common myths about mentoring persist:
Myth #1: You have to have a plan. Mentorship doesn’t have to be a formal process. Consider having coffee and conversation with your mentee every week. Sharing your experience is the most important thing you can do for your mentee.
Myth #2: You have to know everything. Don’t be afraid to share the biggest mistake you ever made (and how you learned from it). When you demonstrate transparency, your mentee will feel more comfortable opening up and sharing their own experiences.
Myth #3: Age matters. Modern mentors don’t have to be older than you, just able to offer up a fresh perspective and great advice while acting as a sounding board. Reverse mentoring, for example, pairs older executives with younger employees for coaching on topics such as technology and social media. We all can learn from each other.
Myth #4: It takes so much time. In reality, you probably won’t even notice the time you spend in a mentoring relationship, especially if you are flexible on timing. A quick phone call from a mentee seeking advice for an immediate business challenge is as invaluable (perhaps more) as a long in-person chat.
Myth #5: You have to fix all the problems. It’s tempting to keep your mentee from making mistakes, but it’s often more valuable to give advice and let them act, even if it’s not exactly what you would do. Remember, you are there to advise and allow them space to learn by doing.