Mentoring as a Competitive Advantage

April 12, 2019 | Empowering rural Iowa Drew Larson, Attorney, BrownWinick Law Firm,

If you ask a person what helped them succeed, they almost always mention a mentor who helped them in their career. Mentors often fill in the gaps in formal written policies and help mentees build the soft skills that every employer desires. Many companies are building formal mentoring programs to position their employees for success.

While each program is different, the best mentoring programs are designed around the following concepts:

  • Built on Trust. Ultimately, successful mentoring relationships are built on trust between the mentor and mentee.
  • Time Builds Trust. To have trust, a mentor and mentee must actually spend enough time together to get past the pleasantries and build a meaningful relationship. Often this means meeting and getting out of the office on a regular basis.
  • Trust Allows Honesty. Once built, trust allows for honest questions and feedback between mentor and mentee. Whether it is about work product, compensation or other challenging conversations, a trusted mentor can help the mentee work through these matters in a productive manner.
  • Mentoring is a Skill. Being a good mentor is a different skill than being the boss or a co-worker in the same department. The mentor must have the right personality and knowledge to build trust and to be able to provide useful advice to the mentee. Not everyone will be the right fit, and selecting a mentor is a decision that should be made thoughtfully.

In my experience, companies that have strong mentoring programs tend to have the strongest culture, the most loyal employees, and they achieve the most financial success. A little investment in this area can have big returns.