I was inspired to write this blog by a mentee of mine who today told me “it must be so tiring for you to have these intense mentoring discussions”. She couldn’t be more wrong. Mentoring energizes me. The time I take to mentor 8-10 people on an ongoing basis, both inside and outside of Marketing & Communications, often feels like the most worthwhile part of my work days.

/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/mentor_293421.jpgWhy do I feel this way?

1.       It challenges me. Mentees often pose complex interpersonal, performance, even work-life dilemmas, which require me to think creatively about the guidance I can provide and the questions I can ask in return. It’s not always easy to strike a balance between helping someone feel they can better address a problem, without necessarily dictating the answer (since I often don’t have the answer!)

2.       It inspires me. Watching mentees grow as employees, as managers, as people, is a pretty awesome feeling. Knowing I’m contributing to their success, even in a small way, makes me proud of my choice to take time out of my already crazy life to spend with them.

3.       It lets me practice. Each situation a mentee brings to me has elements of things I face in my own job, in my own position as manager, peer and employee. In a way, mentoring provides a means for me to talk through situations that might very well arise somewhere in my own team in a risk-free setting.

4.       It makes me feel good. I’m paying it forward. I’m helping people through their challenges, one step at a time. For any of you wanting a way to give back directly in a work context, this is it.

As I mentor, I learn, just as much as I give. I’m always amazed by the self-reflection mentoring demands of me and by the new ways of thinking my mentees offer. That’s the beautiful thing about mentoring.

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in an SAP Radio program on the power of leaders teaching leaders (shout out to Bonnie D. Graham and her well-executed thought leadership program on HR Trends). You can listen to the show on-demand here.

Mentoring is one relatively simple way leaders can teach others – whether those others are junior to them, senior to them, or work with them. In fact, I maintain that mentoring is an essential skill for leaders. Leaders need to impart their learnings and also realize that their own learning can come from unexpected quarters. Mentoring provides an effective way to both teach and learn, no matter what level in the organization someone is. It’s a 2-way street, and everyone has something to give, even if they don’t think they do.

So the next time anyone asks you if mentoring is worth it….the answer is a resounding YES. And if you’re not already mentoring, get out there and do it!

What do you think? Do you mentor? Are you a mentee? Is it worth it?

Join me on Twitter @carmenoshea. Like this story? Sign up for the SAP Business Trends newsletter here.

To report this post you need to login first.

31 Comments

You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.

  1. Arti Gurbaxani

    Hi Carmen,

     

    Thanks for sharing such a nice blog. I have been at both the situations(a mentor & a mentee too). I could connect to all the points stated above. The line “It’s a 2-way street, and everyone has something to give, even if they don’t think they do” correctly concludes the blog.

       

    And Undoubtedly, its worth to be a Mentor 🙂

     

    ~Arti.

    (0) 
    1. Carmen O'Shea Post author

      Thanks Arti! I really enjoyed your post on teaching earlier this week. I think mentoring is a form of teaching, and a relatively painless one for the mentor. Glad to hear you’re a mentor as well – we have to keep it up! 🙂

      (0) 
  2. Tonja Kehrer

    Hi Carmen,

    it is great to hear such a positive opinion about mentoring. As a new bee I appreciate the effort and time mentors put into helping me to get started. In my opinion it is your positive spirit and attitude that makes a great mentor! 🙂

    (0) 
    1. Carmen O'Shea Post author

      Hi Tonja and thanks for your comments! I agree a positive attitude and willingess to take a bit of a risk are what make a good mentor. Believe that you have something to offer! I hope that even though you’re new to SAP you will consider finding a mentor or mentors AND becoming one soon. I’m sure you have a great deal to offer. 🙂

      (0) 
    1. Carmen O'Shea Post author

      Thanks for sharing this Tim. I just learned a lot about more effective blogging. And you’re right – mentoring can come in many forms – focused on a specific topic or general career advice or spot mentoring on a particular team challenge, for example. And I think mentoring by showcasing examples of best practice blogs is great and gives the rest of us nascent bloggers something to aspire to!

      (0) 
  3. Claudia Leon Chavarri

    Really nice post, Carmen! And it is totally true… Just like some others have commented, I have been on both ends and it is an enriching experience, which I hope everyone gets to live. And the greatest thing is that the mentee as well as the mentor get to learn.

    I hope to keep reading your posts.

    – Claudia –

    (0) 
  4. Sreenivas Naredla

    Hi Carmen,

    It is better positive impression about mentoring.

    Yes your positive attitude made us great feel about mentoring.

    I wish you all the best.

    Thanks.

    Best regards,

    Sri

    London

    (0) 
    1. Carmen O'Shea Post author

      Thanks for your comment Sri. I find there’s pretty much no downside to mentoring except the time put in! Hope you have a chance to do it as well.

      (0) 
  5. Jorge Weiss

    Hi Carmen,

    congratulation.

    The way you write show that it is been really funny for you to be a mentor!

    That is what matters.

    Enjoy it!

    /Weiss

    (0) 
    1. Carmen O'Shea Post author

      Thank you Jorge for the nice comment. I appreciate it! Yes it is a lot of fun for me as well as good learning. And I hope I help some people in the process a bit.

      (0) 
  6. Suseelan Hari

    Hi Carmen,

    Good Day!

    Fantastic blog. I like the sentence “Mentoring is one relatively simple way leaders can teach others”.

    Yes. You are perfect. Keep motivating others it motivates yourself.

    Keep sharing new things and motivate new SCN members.

    Once again, Thank you so much for sharing this information.

    Have a great day!

    Regards,

    Hari Suseelan

    (0) 
    1. Carmen O'Shea Post author

      Thank you Hari. I hope that the information can be useful to you and others. Mentoring really is simple – sharing what you know and learning in return.

      (0) 
  7. SAP enjoy:)

    hola carmen,

    i loved that you have highlighted ‘resounding yes and mentoring is seriously worth it 🙂 ..awesome write up..thanks!

    no worries

    karthik

    (0) 
  8. Stefan Funk

    Hi Carmen,

    Loved to read you blog post. Being a mentor and mentee at the same time, this really inspired me. To me being a mentee this really brings huge value to my professional career. It is actually great to learn from experienced colleagues and it also challenges me to do better and cope with work-live situations, such as peer-to-peer challenges, organizational and political dynamics. I really see the main benefits within this mentor-mentee-relationship in getting guidance and best-practices on how to navigate through the organization as well as getting new and fresh ideas in terms of better communication with your peers and management and getting insights into intercultural nuances. On the other hand, me being a mentor as well, it really inspires me and makes me feel good (as you said): “Watching mentees grow as employees, as managers, as people, is a pretty awesome feeling. Knowing I’m contributing to their success, even in a small way, makes me proud of my choice to take time out of my already crazy life to spend with them.” At the end, everyone should look for having the opportunity to be a mentor or mentee: it brings a lot of value to your professional career in terms of learning from each other, opening new horizons and brining in new ideas.

    Best,

    Stefan

    (0) 
    1. Carmen O'Shea Post author

      So glad to hear you like the post Stefan. I figured you too would be both mentor and mentee. 🙂 It’s a continuous learning process in both directions for sure. And the relationships can differ based on need – sometimes people need a one time discussion before making a big job decision, for example. Other times people like to have an ongoing set of conversations as they progress through their career.

      (0) 
  9. Priyanka Jain

    Hi Carmen,

    Nice write up 🙂

    It really nice to mentor someone. It gives happiness as well as experience 🙂

    I have always been mentee and have never been mentor but would like to do it for sure 🙂

    Regards,

    Priyanka

    (0) 
    1. Carmen O'Shea Post author

      Thank you Priyanka. Absolutely you should think about becoming a mentor. Next time you have a conversation with someone who you think could benefit from a bit of advice, just offer informally that you’d be happy to speak with them or brainstorm with them. That way it doesn’t sound like an official program. Many people will take you up on it and benefit from your experience.

      (0) 
  10. zimkhita buwa

    Thank you for sharing your experience.

    I can’t stress enough how critical it is for all of us to mentor others and for us to seek mentors.

    There is always someone who can learn from our experience.

    I was fortunate to be part of the 2013 TechWomen Programme. This is a programme that is funded by the U.S. Department of State and it gave 78women from Africa and the Middle East the opportunity to be mentored by other Women in Silicon Valley. Each of us were assigned two mentors, a professional and a cultural mentor. What an amazing experience, to spend time with two women who supported me, guided me and wanted only the best for me.

    I hope one day we can have a Webcast on Mentorship.

    Thank you!

    (0) 
    1. Carmen O'Shea Post author

      Zimkhita, thank you for your comment and congratulations to you on being selected for the prestigious TechWomen Programme! I’m so glad to hear that your experience was helpful. I am going to start a mentor-mentee quick tips/advice series for SAP & SCN. I’d love you to be involved if you’re interested. Would you let me know at c.o-shea@sap.com? Thanks!

      (0) 

Leave a Reply