Mentorship Matters

By Rachel Klar CMP.

Regardless of whether you’re new to the industry or a seasoned veteran, mentorship is important to an individual’s personal and professional development. An ongoing relationship between a mentor, someone who has more experience, knowledge, or expertise, and a mentee, someone who requires guidance to improve their knowledge or skills, is extremely valuable because it helps elevate a mentee’s career.

Essentially, mentorship is about helping a professional community that one belongs to and helps shape the next generation with the growth of greater knowledge and skills. Therefore, mentorship is built on relationships of trust, defined roles and responsibilities, and most importantly, open communication and collaboration. I have been privy to both a mentor and mentee role, and based on my experience, the three keys to achieving success are to provide sound guidance, being a role model, and motivational feedback.

Providing sound guidance or feedback to a mentee is essential to support their development, whether formal or informal. Sometimes, a mentee is just looking for advice on career development, while others might want direction on improving specific skills by understanding that the outcome from this relationship is to enhance the speed of learning and by strategically developing specific goals, you can readily focus on the key learning objectives. The guidance required involves a leadership approach that comprises both directing and coaching.

Having participated in Situational Leadership II training (SBII), they define a distinct difference between the two approaches. A directive behaviour involves showing others what and how to accomplish a task through a demonstrative approach (sometimes called “leading by example”) while providing insights and frequent feedback. The intention is to help your mentee build competencies that require further development based on the agreed overarching goals. On the other hand, coaching behaviour helps your mentee create their solutions through an “ask rather than tell” methodology. As the mentor, you want to be able to provide guidance that supports your mentee’s advancement by imparting knowledge based on your own experiences.

mentorship is a critical part of the business ecosystem
A mentee must see a mentor as a role model of good behaviour by adhering to a high standard of behaviour, acting with authenticity, and imparting wisdom. When you become a mentor, especially in the case when an individual seeks you out for advice, assistance on how to deal with situations, and growth opportunities, you need to exhibit a high level of professionalism to be the role model of change.

The characteristics of all my great mentors, and ones I try to exude, are a willingness to listen, being able to navigate the constantly changing environment, remain knowledgeable about their industry, be able to provide clear feedback, and share networks or other resources.

Through role modelling good behaviour, you can influence your mentee’s development as they pursue their career. Acting with authenticity and being vulnerable in mentorship will allow for better transparency and allow your mentee to absorb the lesson faster.

Mentorship is all about motivating a mentee to reach for their dreams and unlock their true potential. This takes courage and strength and is facilitated through ongoing and constructive feedback. A smart mentor might challenge their mentee with questions that push them outside of their comfort zone. The mentor might opt to promote learning opportunities through additional education, as well as words of encouragement that inspire and lead to high morale. Creating a safe environment for pursuing goals and building a strong foundation of trust within the relationship allows for a mentee to achieve the outputs from their goals, all while moving forward in a positive direction. This results in your mentee truly believing in themselves, their abilities and expanding their expectations.

Looking back on my career, mentorship has allowed me to achieve my professional development goals. For many years I have dedicated my energy to provide mentorship to those within the events industry. Completing a career assessment at the end of elementary school showed an affinity for “event planning.” From that point forward, I dedicated my life to succeeding in this career and giving back to help others develop their passion within this industry.

From writing articles to expand others’ mindset on specific topics, coaching current students or new graduates, promoting industry associations externally via my networks and channels, and public speaking on various topics, mentorship is at the forefront of my mind a role model to others.

To wrap this all up, mentorship significantly enables the achievement of both the professional and personal development of one’s skills and goals. Both mentor and mentee can benefit and grow through the relationship, and it is a great way to showcase a level of care for improving the industry. While mentorship requires a dedication of time and energy, the outcomes are well worth the investment of giving back to the community and shaping the next generation.

About the Author:Rachel Klar, CMP, is a respected industry leader and currently leads the Canadian events team for Intuit. She has received recognition as Planner of the Year and Mentor of the Year by MPI Toronto, Top 250 Canadian Event Professional – Corporate Producer and Strategist by BizBash, Smart Women in Meetings Award: Visionary by Smart Meetings and Top 40 under 40 by Connect Meetings, and has written numerous articles across publications.
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