The benefits of mentors – and how to find one
20 September 2023
15 October 2023
Mentoring is not a recent concept. In fact, it has gone on for hundreds of years, originating in the arts, with aspiring painters sitting at the feet of a master to learn their craft.
Mentoring is a more recent arrival in the world of business, and is most prevalent in the US, where 70% of Fortune 500 firms and 93% of Fortune 100 companies run mentoring schemes. But UK firms are waking up to the benefits mentoring can bring, both to individual mentees and mentors, and also to businesses themselves, and the sector as a whole. According to a government survey published on National Mentoring Day last year, 76% of respondents said mentoring had been important to the growth of their business.
The same survey revealed that experience of and interest in mentoring is high, with 61% of respondents believing that mentoring’s reputation among their peers and colleagues had increased over time. But there remain barriers to participation. Around half of the respondents saw cost (51%) and time (48%) as barriers.
In actual fact, the vast majority of mentoring is free. And while most of us do have busy work lives, these days online mentoring meetings can take up far less time than traditional face-to-face sessions.
The benefits of mentoring can be invaluable to the individual. Some of those benefits are obvious – a person with more industry experience than you can impart their knowledge, help you network by effecting introductions to other people, encourage you to apply for more senior roles, maybe coach you for interviews, and provide general guidance and encouragement.
But a good mentor can do a lot more than that. They can challenge you to think differently, to look at the bigger picture, to break out of habits and learned behaviours and to grow, both within your role and as a person.
A good mentor can help you identify your strongest skills and work on your weaker areas, to set goals, be more aspirational, and to stay motivated and focused on your journey.
Mentors can be people inside your own organisation or external. External mentors usually work in the same industry as their mentees, but there are exceptions, who could even be friends or family.
So what is stopping more people in the mortgage industry from seeking out a mentor? Well, you may be afraid to ask, or how to go about it. Just remember, mentorship is a relationship between humans — and not a transaction. So, it’s best not to simply march up to someone and ask them to advise you. Take the time to develop genuine connections with those you look up to and would like to work with.
Alternatively, a simple route is to register with an existing mentorship scheme within the industry. The Society of Mortgage Professionals runs the Connect E-mentoring programme, a free digital platform for SMP members, which matches mentees at any stage of their career with suitable mentors, and facilitates virtual or face-to-face meetings. Other mortgage trade bodies such as the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries also offer free mentoring schemes for advisers.
A mentor can be a great asset to your working life. So why not take steps today to improve your future?