In a world of uncertainty, mentoring is a relationship that can change us.
What makes mentoring different from any other professional relationship is that it is unconnected and free. It is a safe and trusted environment in which to learn and ask questions.
For a young person, there is a huge leap going from school and university to actually being in the professional world. It is going from obtaining knowledge and learning theory to actually doing it. Mentoring helps the mentee with professional socialisation and support and allows the mentor to pass on their knowledge and enhance their profile.
What’s more, research shows that both mentor and mentee experience rapid development and success as a result of taking part in a successful mentoring relationship. Both parties are more likely to get promoted and get a pay-rise.
Other benefits to the mentee include increased confidence, a positive impact, raised morale and building a support network for the future.
For the mentor, benefits include experiencing a high level of personal satisfaction for helping develop the next generation of leaders and a feeling of recognition and acknowledgement.
How to find a mentor
Mentors can be found formally or informally, often when you least expect it.
My personal experience of finding a mentor was very informal. Upon our first meeting I hit it off with a senior procurement leader (past-CIPS president Craig Lardner). We started discussing career progression and it took off from there. I followed in his footsteps to get elected onto Global Congress on behalf of Australasia, of which I am very proud. Nowadays as we are often travelling, if we don’t get to meet in our usual hotel lobby, we tend to have phone, text or e-mail conversations.
You may already know someone who could do with your help, or that you look up to. Don’t feel you have nothing to offer, as everyone has valuable experience to share which can make a real difference.
Formal mentoring could be via a process like a buddy system at work or a formal mentoring scheme. But it can also be impromptu – where you help out a new employee by showing them the ropes, for example. What’s important is that there is a good basis of trust in the relationship and a desire to help others.
Guidelines for the relationship
- In terms of creating the relationship, it is important to build that trust and honesty. Sharing your weaknesses can put each other at ease immediately, allowing confidence in each other to grow.
- Structure is important. Both parties should set goals on what they would like to achieve. Agree between yourselves a schedule of when, where and for how long you will meet.
- Ensure discussions keep to topic; it is not a counselling relationship.
A colleague recently reached out and asked if I would be interested in starting-up a mentoring scheme for young procurement professionals. This is another chance for me to give back as a CIPS Fellow. We hope to be able to launch our pilot scheme at the CIPS Australasia Conference in July. So watch this space!
Hannah Bodilly FCIPS is a Global Congress member for Australasia, CIPS QLD Committee. She is speaking at the CIPS Australasia Conference in Melbourne on 18-19 July. Find out more about the conference here.