In today’s world of changing careers, it’s important not only to connect, but also to support and develop each other as leaders of the next generation. We do this by trading knowledge through teaching and learning from others. To further understand how our mentors connect with their protégés, the Everwise community shared how they approach mentoring and exchanging knowledge.
Value of Mentoring
From sharing their experiences and building connections, to giving back and learning from the next generation of leaders – the community truly sees the value in mentorship. Over 61% of people listed giving back as a key driver for mentoring. Spreading what they’ve learned over the years also strongly resonated among our mentors. These responses correlate with a research finding that indicates education and learning are benefits of workplace mentorship initiatives. By escalating “knowledge transfer,” mentors can ease the pains of a learning curve that impacts employees, accelerating the productivity level of the individual and, the overall team.
There are various ways mentors can support protégés. Gregory Wade found they “are often looking for a sounding board from someone with an objective opinion — someone who hasn’t been through the ringer at the organization. They’re looking for trusted advisors.” A trusted advisor is someone we confide in, and someone we are inspired by. This cannot be done without the desire to build a relationship, a reason our community members become mentors. The professional ties these partnerships create help develop the leaders to come.
To dig further into the aim to connect, we wanted to understand how our community builds relationships. Mentoring relationships develop through sharing knowledge so, we sent out polls asking the community their best approach to learning and teaching.
There are three ways most people learn; through experience, studying, or being taught. The 70/20/10 Learning Model, suggests that of the time we spend learning, 70% should be learning by doing, 20% learning with others and 10% in formal training.
Our mentors’ responses clearly supported this model. More than 60% of mentors said they learn by doing, and 9% said they learn through role playing, another form of interactive doing. In comparison, 30% of participants shared they learn through watching and listening, which is the most common form of learning from others. This can also tie into formal training. Most people need to immerse themselves into what they do to become better, and it’s helpful to have someone guide them through the process.
Understanding how people learn best is essential to align teaching with an individual’s optimal learning in mind. Approximately 40% of the Everwise community believes that encouraging someone try something new, with iteration and feedback, is the best teaching approach. This strongly ties back to Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hours Rule that states to become truly phenomenal at something, we must spend a minimum of 10,000 hours doing it. When we aim to teach someone a new skill, having them practice repetitively isn’t enough. We must also continuously give feedback for them to make improvements as they practice.
The community also expressed a strong need to first understand the person’s current knowledge on the topic before doing anything else. “Often people will know something about the topic or skill but are reluctant to make changes or waves. By understanding what they know helps you build on their skills as well as might teach you something as well. There is always something to learn for the teacher and student” shares mentor Anthony Premer.
Sharon Stover agrees. “Most of my coaching experiences with my team are centered around getting them to think about things from multiple perspectives, so I generally start by asking questions that I think need to be answered and then a discussion ensues based on their answers. I then have them tell me how they think something should be done. This type of dialogue ensures that we all learn something from the experience.”
Criteria to Flourish Under
While it’s good to know the best approach in learning and teaching, it’s also important to understand how these two combine to create a successful relationship where both parties can grow. When asked about the criteria required for a successful partnership, mentors emphasized having some form of structure. They shared various ways to provide that structure, from goal setting, meeting agendas, to aligning both parties’ past professional experiences.
Out of the ways to provide structure, the community prioritized setting a clear vision and goals with their protégé. This allows for the mentor and protégé to get started on the same page and cohesively come up with a strategy to reach the end goal. Mentor Pooja Mehta Shemar always starts “with the end result or goal in mind – that makes it more realistic to commit to doing anything, learning something new or generally with anything in life.”
Another critical factor in determining a successful mentorship is when a mentor understands what she can offer. This aligns even better when the goal setting process begins early as it allows the mentor time to evaluate what she can bring to the table. By truly understanding what a mentor can offer in her past experience, she can give anecdotal examples to encourage the protégé to put themselves in the circumstance.
Perhaps the most crucial factor of all, like any other relationship, is commitment. Over 55% of our community agreed there is a need for strong commitment to truly have a successful partnership. Without it, participants have less ground to hold each other accountable.
The impact of mentoring in the workplace is clear for the protégé, mentor, organization, and even the economy. Research shows that people who received mentorship tend to get promoted more frequently and earn more money than those who don’t. The protégé has a sounding board to freely express their concerns to someone who is readily listening and has their best professional interest in mind. Mentors not only pass on their wisdom, but also learn from the protégé. The partnership fosters a more productive work environment, when a protégé can feel confident about his decision after getting a second perspective.
As technology makes it easier for the world to connect, our drive to get to know one another also increases. The Everwise mentor community demonstrated just that when they highlighted the importance of sharing their experiences with future leaders.
Interested in mentoring? Join the Everwise Mentor community!