FlexiSAF recently introduced a company-wide employee mentorship program to it’s staff. This is one step in building the culture of continuous improvement and innovation that we believe in.

Why Mentorship?

It’s safe to say that we are all interested in growing from where we are and becoming better versions of ourselves. Whether it’s improving a specific skill set or generally harnessing our inner potential to chase our dreams – everybody wishes to grow in one way or the other.

A mentor is simply someone who has done something we would like to do or who is more experience than us in a field. Most people consciously or not, have more than one person whom they look up to in one or several aspects of life.

A lot of us sometimes dream of having that person become our mentor just so that we can have one on one conversations with them and find out the big ‘secret’ to success.

That’s exactly the problem – a lot of us get the entire idea of mentorship wrong. You see, according to the experts, mentorship is a relationship that you grow over time, sort of like any other meaningful relationship. It’s definitely not something you should ask of someone the first time you meet them.

Secondly, a lot of people think that they are looking for mentors but what they’re actually looking for is someone to give them a short cut or to do the work for them. Mentorship isn’t about riding on the shoulders of someone more successful. It isn’t about getting a secret cheat code to life, and that’s another area where most people get it wrong.

So What is Mentorship and how should we go about it?

According to Wiki,pedia Mentorship is a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. The mentor may be older or younger than the person being mentored, but he or she must have a certain area of expertise.

The interesting thing about mentorship is that you never outgrow the need for it. No matter how experienced you are, everybody needs a mentor.

Everyone needs a coach. We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.

– Bill Gates (TED Talk)

Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google also confirmed the importance of having a mentor – even as an experienced CEO! In his personal experience, a mentor is someone who can give you perspective and help you look at things from fresh angles. Do the research – Most successful entrepreneurs have/had mentors. It’s a proven way to help you leapfrog through your career growth. Now, your mentor doesn’t necessarily have to be your boss or the wealthiest person you know. It could be your more experienced colleague in the office or someone else who can give you tested advice and feedback.

Mentors don’t just give you advice, they also motivate you as long as you are fulfilling your own end of the deal. No matter who your mentor is, the one thing most mentors hate the most is wasting their time. Successful and brilliant people value their time more than anything else and the chances are high that they’re also busy or probably have tons of other people like you requesting mentorship and time from them.

So how do you stand out as an ideal mentee, rather than a waste of your mentors time?

To be a good mentee, you should:

  1. Ask relevant questions – it shows that you’re ready and you’re already doing the work.
  2. Always do your homework/research i.e don’t expect to be spoon fed
  3. Be respectful of the mentors time and schedule; make the most of the time with them
  4. Make relevant contributions –  after all, mentorship isn’t a one way street and your mentor could also learn a thing or two from you.

Watch Simon Sink give a refreshing take on mentorship in the video below:

Benefits of  a Workplace Mentoring Program

  • Improves learning and complements ongoing training and capacity building objectives
  • Boosts leadership and management skills
  • Creates a sense of belonging
  • Increased job satisfaction
  • Speeds up Career growth
  • Better management-employee relations
  • Creates an open, innovative workplace culture

Your workplace mentorship program doesn’t have to be formal. For FlexiSAF, the main idea was to create a culture that encourages sharing, learning and collaboration and so the mentorship program is very voluntary and all participating employees need to be willing to become a mentee or mentor. FlexiSAF only comes in by offering tools and processes to help make the process effective. However, some other organisations may find it necessary to have a more formal mentorship program depending on their objectives. It’s best to find what works for you.

Let’s hear your thoughts…What do you think?

Do YOU have a mentor?

Do you think it’s a good idea to introduce mentorship program in your workplace?

If yes, do you prefer formal or informal workplace mentorship programs?  

Talk to us in the comments below!