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Why Mentoring Matters to Me





Many of us will manage other people at some point in our careers and mentoring is a huge aspect of managing fellow colleagues. Like any other skill set mentoring requires practice and if done correctly can yield benefits for both the mentor and the mentee. 

Personally I have always loved interacting and working with people. However I was always skeptical about my abilities to manage others. I felt it was a lot of responsibility to motivate and mentor others to succeed in their roles. It all changed about a year ago when my company started building an offshore capability. I was christened into a mentoring role to groom our offshore talent pool. By nature I am someone who likes to help others. I strongly believe that it’s our fundamental duty to help those we can to the best of our abilities. Thus my eagerness to help others provided the initial fodder to really take up the challenge. 

There were times when I would go to the office very early in the morning so that I could get enough time with our offshore team in eastern Europe and then I would stay back late so that I can prepare training materials for the team. And I would do this while managing my own workload. I must say that it was very challenging managing and mentoring team members who are in a different geographic location and whose first language is not English. I would spend hours on the phone with my offshore team members trying to understand their concerns and challenges and work with them to resolve those challenges. 

Initially it was just a job for me, but it all changed when one of my Toronto colleagues told me that he was very impressed by the work of one of the offshore team members I have mentored. This made me feel very proud. It was very fulfilling to know that I helped someone grow in his role and played a small part in his success. That was my first foray into mentorship. 

This event encouraged me to become better at mentorship and I decided to take up mentoring roles at my local Toastmaster club. And nowadays it has become a passion for me - something I thoroughly enjoy. It brings me boundless joy to see my mentees flourish in their respective roles and succeed in their goals.

Mentoring others have helped me improve myself and has set me on a path of continuous growth. Here are few of the benefits of mentoring that I have come to notice in my own personal experience. 

1. Achieving our individual goals can bring a lot of joy to us like when we get a promotion, buy our first car or buy our first house. However when you mentor others you play a part in their successes thus sharing in the subsequent joy from their achievements. For example each time my mentee gives a speech at our local Toastmaster club or takes up an important role at a Toastmaster session it brings me great joy to help them achieve their leadership goals. Similarly at work when I see one of my mentees getting promoted or moving to a better opportunity it makes me extremely happy knowing I played a small role in their success. 

2. You learn a lot from your mentees. There were numerous times when a mentee will ask me questions that I never thought about or provide insight in a discussion that never crossed my mind. It only broadens your horizons as you participate in helping others. They can also challenge your long held beliefs and help you adapt to changing times. 

3. It teaches you to be patient and listen. One of the key components of good communication is active listening, and mentorship is a great way to improve your skills as you need to be a good listener to be able to understand and address your mentees’ challenges.

4. It also teaches you to effectively provide constructive feedback to others by building empathy. A major part of mentoring is communicating feedback to the mentee and ensuring that the mentee benefits from it. 

5. It helps you to become a better leader. As you mentor and coach it teaches you to learn how to motivate and energize others which is essential in a leader. I personally feel teaching someone to use a particular tool or technique is the easier half of people management. It’s the ability to motivate and excite others to succeed in their respective roles is the main challenge and it requires practice.

As I have grown in my role as a mentor I have to take a moment to appreciate the mentorship I received from my past and present managers at work. I have learned a lot from them and my goal is to emulate them and become a beacon of light to my fellow mentees. 

In conclusion I highly encourage everyone with leadership goals to develop their mentoring skills. It’s a great way to help others, to improve communication skills, to learn new perspectives and to become an inspiring leader.

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