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What is business mentoring about?

Mentoring is quite the buzz word and you may have heard others talk about it or refer to it.  We provide an insight into what it is and whether you might feel it’s right for you. 

What are business mentors?

Business mentors tend to be people who have knowledge and experience that they can use to help other people develop their careers through personal and professional development. They often act as role models. Mentoring is often a longer term relationship. 

Mentoring differs from coaching, as coaching tends to be for a shorter defined period of time focusing on one particular skill or issue that needs improving.

What is the benefit of having a mentor?

A mentor can offer support, give advice and share vital knowledge with you and will be a valuable asset in helping your business grow. Here we look at some of the benefits they can offer the small business owner.

  • Focus on what's important to you

    Mentoring directly targets individual needs. Traditional approaches to training and development can often be a bit hit and miss with some things being relevant whilst others not.  With mentoring you get value for money – it’s all directly relevant and at a time that suits you.

  • Express concerns and opinions

    It’s a safe environment to hypothesise or express concerns without fear of embarrassment or ridicule or judgement. It’s not always comfortable to voice all your opinions in front of colleagues. Sometimes you want to talk them through in a safer environment and with space to think.

  • Resolve problems

    Mentoring allows you to tackle real problems that are happening to you rather than traditional training courses that tend to deal in hypothetical situations or generic scenarios. You can talk through actual outcomes and reactions.

  • Self development

    Self-awareness is an essential skill in all businesses today. Mentoring gives you the time and space to develop your self-awareness and understand your own reactions and responses to situations, enabling you to be more effective in future.

  • Build a network

    And finally, one of the major benefits of mentoring is the network that it will build for you. Your mentor can introduce you to people who may be supportive or want to work with you and your business.

What does mentoring actually involve?

Mentoring:

  • helps you get past challenges you wouldn’t otherwise have got through on your own
  • gives you the breathing space to think about how to improve your performance and develop yourself
  • means having someone to talk to that can understand and relate to your own situations
  • gives you the feeling that you are not alone and to be inspired and motivated by someone who has been through it
  • helps improve confidence, the ability to deal with difficult situations, people skills and self awareness
  • offers coaching, talking and action planning.

You should be able to choose your own mentor. The relationship between the two of you is key and it’s important that it is somebody you can confide in and feel comfortable with.

Survey: How effective is mentoring?

This vote is not an opinion poll, but a way for you to compare your views with other small business owners.

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Have you ever had a mentor?

If you answered yes to question 1 how helpful did you find it?

If answered no to question 1 would you be interested in having a mentor?

Should I be providing mentoring to my staff?

There is no legal obligation to provide mentoring, but it may be an appropriate way to help meet some of the development needs of your workforce.  Depending on the size of your organisation you may find you need to go outside of the company to find mentors for your staff rather than using existing members of the workforce.

If you use members of your own workforce as mentors you will need to ensure they are provided with the appropriate training to support them in this new role.

Is mentoring right for me?

Take a look at the following:

  • Do you need to expand your network of contacts?
  • Do you often feel you would benefit from advice of someone who has been in a similar situation/circumstances but don’t know anyone?
  • Do you feel you would benefit from the opportunity to talk your solutions through with someone who has experience and knowledge of dealing with similar situations?
  • Have you identified areas of your own development that you would like to improve or change?
  • Are you prepared to accept constructive criticism?
  • Are you ready to consider you may need to make changes to your behaviours, attitudes and practices?
  • Are you getting nowhere fast and feel like you are banging your head against a brick wall
  • Are you prepared to make the commitment to dedicating time to your own self-development?
  • Do you sometimes feel isolated or need some mutual support?

If the majority of your replies to this are no,  you may not be quite ready to engage in mentoring yet. Take some time to think it through and find out more about it before making a decision.

If you can answer yes to half the the questions, then you may find that mentoring would work for you. It could certainly be worth looking into and giving it some more thought.

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