|11 Dec 2023
No matter what stage of your career you are in, mentoring and coaching can be hugely valuable in terms of career progression, job satisfaction and work life balance. A mentor acts as an independent sounding board, able to see your issues objectively, giving you a valuable and unique perspective. Mentoring and coaching aren’t just for those new into work or those fresh out of university – everyone will benefit from having time to consider what is working, what needs to change and what goals they want to achieve, no matter what stage of their career they are in.
Below are just 5 of the ways mentoring can boost your career, give you renewed motivation and help you on your way to achieving your goals.
Are you low in confidence?
A key attribute we all need is some confidence in our abilities. Without this we are unlikely to put ourselves forward for promotions or put our heads above the parapet and get ourselves noticed. A mentor, particularly someone who works outside of your organization, will be well placed to help you capitalize on the skills you already have, giving you the confidence to use them effectively. This can be done quite simply, a personal SWOT is a great place to start. A study by the ICF (2009) of over 2,000 coached clients found that an increase in self-confidence was reported by over 80%.
Top Tip: Be honest about wanting to build on your confidence with your mentor – only once they know this is an area you want to build on will they be able to help. Everyone, regardless of station, will have had times they have doubted their own abilities so your mentor will undoubtedly have experienced similar feelings to you.
Is the grass really greener?
It’s quite common to feel stuck in a rut with your career. You might find yourself feeling a bit bored, restless or wondering if there is something out there that is better suited to you. Whilst this is all completely normal, it can be a bit discombobulating, leaving you with a sense of dissatisfaction and unease. Mentoring or coaching can be a great way to address this, working closely with someone to understand what first attracted you to the job, what your successes have been and to redefine your goals for the future. It might be that the time has come for you to look to new pastures, but equally, it might be that you are ‘running away’ from something at work – and these patterns can often repeat throughout our lives.
Top Tip: Ask yourself if you are running away or towards something. We all have different ways of coping with challenges, set backs, interpersonal difficulties and frustrations. A mentor can help you understand your coping mechanisms which will set you up for the future.
Plateauing vs progression
If you feel that promotions are passing you by, it might be time to look for a mentor. Research has shown that mentored individuals are more likely to display greater creativity and innovation skills in the workplace (Whitmore, 2017), allowing them to display better problem-solving skills. More so than ever, increased creativity is a vital skill in the workplace, as we work in a more rapidly changing and competitive global environment. A study by the ICF (2009) found that 75% of the 2,000 respondents reported increased performance at work, following their time with a mentor.
Top Tip: Be honest with yourself about what might be holding you back – is it a skill thing or an interpersonal thing? Asking for feedback from your line manager can be a brilliant first step, even if it might be a bit uncomfortable. Once you know what you are working with, you can address any issues with your mentor.
Developing your skills to progress
We all know that learning doesn’t end when you leave university or a training course, however finding opportunities to genuinely learn, once you are in the workplace, can be scarce. Training days and professional qualifications absolutely have their place, but often the learning isn’t particularly transferable and can feel very generic. Mentoring and coaching offer the ability to do a huge amount of personalized learning – be it via increased self-awareness, skills attainment or just hearing how someone else sees a situation. The ICF (2009) found that 65% of 2,000 participants said they had improved communication, teamworking and business management skills as a result of mentoring. A perfect example would be public speaking and presentation skills or learning how to negotiate with others. Mentors who have experience in this field will be able to give you their advice and also help you fine tune your existing skills.
Top Tip: Be brave! To get the most out of a mentor you will need to be honest and open about where you think your areas of development are. Saying things such as ‘How did you learn to do that?’ or ‘I think I could improve my ability to lead a team’ will allow a mentor to not only question your assumptions but, if necessary, share knowledge that may help you improve your skills.
Industry Know How
Without fail, one area that mentors and coaches can have a huge impact on is their ability to share industry knowledge and experience. For instance, is residential or commercial real estate for you? What are the different routes into the Foreign Office? How might you go about increasing your sales revenue or entering new markets? Whilst it is hugely valuable to make and learn from our own mistakes, having an experienced ear can allow you to get onto the right track. It is likely a mentor will give you fresh food for thought – areas you hadn’t even thought of. And of course, some mentors might be able to connect you with others who can help you on your way.
Top Tip: Admit you don’t know what you want to do or how to do something. The mentors who sign up with the OBA are here because they want to help (after all, everyone loves feeling helpful and being able to share their hard earned knowledge!). Use your time with them wisely, make a list of things you want to ask them about and just go for it!
What is the OBA Mentoring Scheme
Run by OBs for OBs, the OBA Mentoring scheme is a new (ish!) initiative with over 80 mentors signed up. These mentors come from all walks of life, covering all industries. They are without doubt a hugely experienced group, all keen and eager to share their experience and knowledge with others.
You might talk to a mentor once or more often. Meetings are most likely to take place via video conferencing so they can fit in around commitments. Some OBs have been lucky enough to find internship opportunities, help with job applications or a insight into a particular field.
ICF (2009) Global Coaching Client Study
Whitemore, J. (2017) ‘Coaching for Performance: The Principles and Practice of Coaching and Leadership.’ London: Nicholas Brearley Publishing