The Power of Mentorship

2 kids with scienceYou’ve heard about Mentoring, and don’t understand what all of the hype is about – it’s just another way to say “have a conversation with people who know stuff you don’t” right? On the surface that may be all there is to it, but the power of mentoring goes a lot farther than those meetings may seem to indicate, and a successful mentoring relationship can often lead to decades of collaboration.

The Benefits

Mentoring has a lot of benefits, and not just to the person who is looking for a mentor (called the protege or “mentee”). A few of the benefits include:

  • Better engagement
  • More job satisfaction
  • Higher retention (less employee turnover) for both partners in the mentoring relationship
  • Faster promotions
  • Facilitated learning – for both parties
  • Better succession planning
  • Higher overall knowledge base for the business
  • Staff that are more skilled, more engaged and better at working together.

Most of these benefits are difficult to quantify, so many of the companies that specialize in supporting mentorship programs tend to focus on retention.

Mentorship Studies

Success AheadOne of the most comprehensive studies associated with a deliberate mentorship program was undertaken by Sun Microsystems, the developers of the JAVA programming language and one of the technology greats of the 1990’s and 2000’s (which was eventually swallowed by Oracle) you can find that study, “Sun Mentoring: 1996-2009” HERE1. Katy Dickinson and Tanya Jankot are still quite active in mentoring, and are worth looking into, particularly if you are a woman in a STEM (Science, Technology Engineering and Math) field.

There are also a number of studies in academia and government including:

You can even find a methodology for evaluating protégés’ satisfaction with mentoring relationships in medical education (Munich). This study concluded that “Satisfaction seems to be the most reliable predictor for the success of mentoring relationships” – so if the partners are happy with the relationship, they will meet their goals

So Now What?

There are a number of mentoring programs around that you can get involved. Some places to look include

  • Your workplace
  • Professional associations
  • Universities and colleges
  • Business and Entepreneurial associations

If you don’t have a mentorship program to get involved in, then maybe you should create your own: Mentorship Materials are available here so you can get started right away!

1 Note that “Sun Mentoring: 1996-2009” SMLI TR-2009-18, by Katy Dickinson, Tanya Jankot, and Helen Gracon is Copyright 2009, Sun Microsystems, Inc. All rights reserved. Unlimited copying without fee is permitted provided that the copies are not made nor distributed for direct commercial advantage, and credit to the source is given.

Photos by Jack Moreh

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