There are many people I speak with who are interested in mentoring others in the accounting and finance community. In many cases, it takes the formal environment of their current employer (assuming a mentoring program exists) to offer their time as a mentor. Even if this is the case, there are many reasons we put it in the “too hard basket”.
Too hard to find a mentee
Where’s the value in it for me?
Who will value my advice or career insights?
There are thousands of people at all stages of their career who would love the support of you as their mentor. An ear to listen on their problems and career challenges. Someone to share some wise advice when times are getting tough. A voice of reason when it comes to a big, emotion-filled decision. A kick up the a$%@ when it is needed.
Regardless of the reason, we can play this role for others who will respect and often take a great deal of value from our ability to listen and share some supportive advice. Often a lot more than we appreciate.
Why mentor others?
There are two distinct reasons you will mentor others, and both provide you, as the mentor, a great deal of reward. Let’s explore:
- Practical Value
Your mentees will usually see things that you can’t. Even if they work in the same organisation, they can become your eyes and ears to find out information that could be very valuable to you.
In a large company, this could be the inside word on what is going on in a division that you don’t get as close to as you would like. You might be able to “smell” an issue, but your mentee can provide real life insight into what is going on through their own stories and challenges. Of course, you should always make your own judgement on such issues, but a starting point can help tremendously when time is limited.
Outside of your organisation, a mentee can do the same. Keep you aware of trends and things that other companies are doing that is interesting or could be of value to you. They know people you don’t know and could make introductions. And, if you are a great mentor, they will speak positively about you to others, building your professional brand from the ground up.
We know that those who mentor take their career seriously, and for this reason alone, hearing about others playing a mentor role tells a great deal about their character in a professional context.
- Emotional Value
As a leader and human being, we are often compelled to help others for a greater good. This could be for the success of your team, of your company, for the accounting and finance community and even some other higher callings.
Selfishly, it is the positive feelings we receive as a result of helping others that ensures we (as humans) continue to help each other out. In stressful times, there can be nothing better than to see and hear about a mentee achieve on the back of support and advice you have provided. Obviously they have done the hard yards, but a little dose of serotonin can certainly make you feel good for a while.
With this good feeling comes many other benefits. It can help reduce stress, allows you to take a bigger picture view when navigating your own challenges, and often helps you to make better decisions. All of this from helping someone else out.
So, when someone plucks up the courage to ask you for some help (even if they aren’t going to call you a mentor initially), think about making it a worthwhile experience for both parties. You never know – “Jenny in Division X” might be the doorway to your next promotion.
“What you sow, so shall you reap”