I’ve been a mentor in various guises for almost a decade now, and trained to be a fundraising mentor with the Institute of Fundraising London Region’s mentoring programme last year. Here are 10 reasons why it’s a brilliant thing to do:
1. It teaches you to take a step back from your own workload
Gone are the days when it’s easy to ‘clock off’ from your workload when you leave the office. We can all get emails or take calls on our phone. And while that can be very useful, it can have an effect mentally too. Take a step back and mentor! You’ll have to turn your phone off and devote yourself to something and someone else. It makes a refreshing change.
2. You will learn how to listen actively
I’ve found that I’ve had to learn to listen differently as a mentor, and it’s a very important skill to develop. In most conversations, we often devote at least part of our brains to thinking about what we’ll say next. We often reply along the lines of “That reminds me of the time when this happened to me…” don’t we? Well, mentoring has taught me to focus 100% on listening. It’s taught me the value of not mirroring conversationally in that way, but instead to think solely about the key issues that the mentee is bringing up and the best ways to respond to them.
3. You will keep your networks live
It’s always good to meet people in the sector. Through both my mentoring training and mentoring itself, I’ve met a wide range of people to whom I’m now able to turn for professional advice or with the odd query. Of course, I will also happily do the same for them.
4. You will ‘give something back’
My interest in mentoring was first sparked by an excellent manager who mentored me brilliantly earlier in my career. What better tribute to him and the impact that he had on me than to mentor others? It really is better to give than to receive, and all that…
5. You will learn about learning
This is an important one. When I started mentoring, I found myself itching to tell my mentee what I thought the answer was. This might have been appropriate sometimes, but I’ve come to understand that the best way for someone to learn is for them to arrive at the answers themselves.
6. You’ll become a better manager
Mentoring skills can be so important to a manager. What is the best way to enable your team to develop, and to become increasingly effective? Mentoring, as well as coaching, may be the answer. And I think the ability to mentor is an underestimated element of leadership.
7. You will get insights into your own issues
Taking that step back from your own work problems may actually help you in the long run, because you might see them afresh. And if your mentee is arriving at their own solutions with your support, it may well be that they’ll come up with things you hadn’t previously thought of!
8. You will learn to focus on aims and actions
While I have talked about the benefits of mentoring for mentors, the real beauty of it is that it is really for the mentee, and for them alone. It is their time. They set the agenda each time, and together we’ve worked out their goals for the year. What actions will they need to take to get there? What problems or issues can we talk about along the way? When it works, it’s incredibly ‘lean’ – simple and effective.
9. It will be good for your own career
We’re working in the voluntary sector after all. We rely on volunteers, such as Trustees and fun runners, to operate effectively as organisations. Let’s practise what we preach! And while we’re at it, mentoring shows your commitment to your profession as well as to the sector. Frankly, it looks good on your CV.
10. It’s fun!
You’ve probably gathered by now how much I enjoy mentoring. Simply put, making a connection with another person can be tremendously enjoyable. It’s not always easy, and it’s certainly not all laughs, but I gain tremendous satisfaction from the hard earned moments when my mentee feels the time I’m spending with them is making a difference to them.
Surely I don’t need to go on? Train to be a mentor! Sign up now!
this blog was first posted on the Institute of Fundraising website