Your Perfect Mentor Might be Closer Than You Think

by Natalie Turner 01/14/2021

You may be a rising star and have a track record of success. However, gaining a mentor is a truly valuable way to not only advance but bond with your coworkers and organization as a whole. In fact, 71% of Fortune 500 companies currently have mentoring programs. It’s not hard to see why, as 91% of workers who have mentors are satisfied in their jobs. Mentorships have additional powerful benefits for employees and their organizations alike, boosting recruitment, retention, self-development, and career progression, to name a few. But with remote workers experiencing new distance from coworkers, teams, and in-person interactions due to COVID-19, mentoring is taking on an added impact — aiding in sustaining a culture of inclusion and belonging in a now virtual workplace. 

So how can you make it happen?

Leadership mentoring is just one piece of the pie. Peer mentorship — whether that’s providing career advice, learning from a coworker with different expertise, or just having someone to compare insights with — is crucial now and after COVID-19. Here’s why:

Strengthen Team Relationships

According to a 2020 Digital HR Tech article, 70% of surveyed employees experience stress and tension due to COVID-19 measures. Peer mentoring sets the stage for coworkers to strengthen their relationships by expressing concerns, fears, and desires and in turn, bond and work more cohesively as a team. When coworkers feel personally connected to each other’s development and growth and can share freely, it creates an environment in which teams are truly all in together.

Develop Peer-to-Peer Career Growth

As many of us know, starting or developing a new career trajectory can be incredibly overwhelming — navigating a whole new environment, developing skills, and finding those unique ways in which to shine. Your mentor can tell you everything you need to know, including those things you wouldn’t necessarily find in an official “user’s manual.”

For more experienced peers, taking the time to reach out to those in your work community with limited experience isn’t just helpful, it’s mutually beneficial. Through aligning on career goals, agreeing on a meeting and learning cadence, and holding each other accountable for executing those goals, both can successfully grow. For a more seasoned mentor, it provides an opportunity to develop or brush up on leadership and teaching skills, which can come in handy for future opportunities. Also, it just feels good to go the extra mile for someone — we’ve all been there, right?

Advancement through Inclusion

A recent Forbes study highlighted a peer mentorship program created for the U.S. Coast Guard to support the success of female cadets or those that came from a racial or ethnic minority background by matching them with a peer mentor. The results were clear: the program had a 97% success rate in matching mentors and mentees — they stuck together. Providing a peer mentor is a clear way to show the dual benefit of helping keep the organization resilient while also supporting recruitment and retention goals around gender and underrepresented groups.

So how can you get started? The answer is you probably already have. Peers share advice all the time, whether discussing strategy for a project, learning a new platform or skill, or just on a weekly team call. Experienced peers can take conversations to the next level by reaching out to those in the organization with less experience or resources. Get to know what their career goals, interests, and desires are. Connect them with people you know who have expertise in those areas, especially if it isn’t your skillset. When you find a peer, discuss your individual goals, identify a plan that benefits both of you, and be consistent. Whether that’s connecting over video chat to set weekly goals, going for coffee (when appropriate), or just a quick check-in, maintaining regular connections is key to any successful peer mentorship.

The Bottom Line

In these uncertain times, employees desire a clear dedication to their development. Organizations and employees alike can invest in peer mentorship to create stronger, more inclusive teams — whether that’s helping a coworker go after a promotion or even just an extra video call to connect with a teammate. Ready to take your career to the next level in 2021? Addison can help. Start your journey here.