YESTERDAY’S article discussed how the key to a mentor’s value lies in his experience, that is, his mentee can benefit from the wisdom of someone who has faced the same issues many times over.

Other benefits of having a mentor include boosting the mentee’s career progression through advice and access to opportunities not previously considered or open to the mentee.

Regarding what qualities to look for in a mentor, the article advised finding a mentor who is a good communicator and successful in the career the mentee aspires to.

Today’s article takes a closer look at the mentoring relationship, and notes that there are benefits for the mentor as well.


What’s in it for the mentor?

A good mentor believes in and has a commitment to helping people develop life and work skills. He gains a sense of fulfilment from the relationship with his mentee and understands it is also an opportunity to develop his own skills.

An older, more experienced mentor will also be exposed to newer ideas from his mentee — and widen his knowledge in the process.


Ask for a mentor

Many companies now have mentoring programmes for their staff. If your company has such a programme, approach your HR department to participate in it. If your company doesn’t run a mentoring programme, don’t be afraid to request mentoring support, or make the suggestion. External mentoring services are also a possibility for your company.

If your company is unable to help you, do not despair. Finding a mentor on your own will maximise your chances of finding the best person for the job.

Consider what you are looking for in a mentor and then approach the person of your choice. They are likely to be flattered by your request and will not turn you down.


Building the relationship

Once you have found your mentor, the next step is for you both to discuss your expectations and what you hope to achieve from the relationship. You need to be open to learning and have a good understanding of yourself and a desire to achieve.

The rewards of a mentoring relationship are too great to ignore. Sometimes, it can be simply a natural progression in the bond you have with a senior colleague at work or an industry contact, or it may be a relationship that you have to actively pursue.

Regardless of the means, the benefits speak for themselves. You will always have an experienced sounding board to assist you through tricky times and be there to celebrate your achievements.

No matter how small the challenge, your mentor will always understand what you are going through, as he has been there before and is familiar with the trials and predicaments you experience daily.


Mutual respect

For mentoring to work, the mentor should not dominate the relationship. He can take responsibility for managing the relationship but should allow the mentee to “set the agenda”.

Managing the relationship effectively involves ensuring that the mentee feels supported and encouraged and is able to speak to the mentor without the fear of being judged. The mentor also needs his mentee’s reassurance that their discussions and the information exchanged will be kept confidential.

If all these conditions are established, the mentor and mentee can look forward to a warm collaboration that achieves both parties’ objectives.


Article by Professor Sattar Bawany, the CEO of the Centre for Executive Education (CEE) and strategic adviser of the International Professional Managers Association (IPMA). CEE offers executive coaching and leadership development programmes that help professionals develop the skills and knowledge to embrace change and catalyse success in their industries. For more information, visit or e-mail