Top mentoring myths revealed

In a recently released book called “Made in Canada Leadership: Wisdom from the Nation's Best and Brightest on the Art and Practice of Leadership”, authors Henein and Morissette surveyed 295 exceptional leaders in a variety of industries and the number one resource they recommend for future leaders is getting a mentor.

Due to the high rate of change in our world today and because we are all going to have multiple careers in our lifetime, it is up to each individual to be their own career activist. People used to rely on the organization they worked for to map a path for them, today it is up to each person to take charge of their personal and professional development.

As popular as mentoring is in the world of business, education, career and other fields, there remains many misconceptions about it. We'd like to help bring some clarity to the meaning of the term.

Myth #1: Mentoring is for people with academic, social or other challenges.
Mentoring is for individuals who want to learn new things, develop their skills and make connections with people who are in the same field or share similar interests. Mentoring For Success searches out motivated Fanshawe students and grads to be part of our program. We select people who can demonstrate a commitment to the program and are not concerned with grades or transcripts.

Myth #2: Mentees have to be younger than their mentors.
Although this is often the case, it is not true all of the time. Mentors are people with more experience who lend advice, guidance, encouragement and support to an individual with less experience. There are many situations in which a younger mentor might be matched with an older mentee. A professional with many years of experience in the workforce may look to a younger person for tips on the latest technology. Similarly, someone starting a second or third career may be older, yet have less experience in their new field, than a younger mentor. Regardless of age, both mentees and mentors learn new things and develop their capabilities in a mentoring relationship.

Myth #3: Mentoring takes a lot of time.
Mentoring For Success uses a best practice of two-to-four hours per month for a period of six months. This has been proven to be the time needed for the development of an effective mentoring relationship and for four-to-six goals to be accomplished. Mentoring For Success builds flexibility into our program whereby participants can choose to communicate via in-person meetings, over the phone or online — whatever works best for the individuals.

Myth #4: My boss will be/is my mentor.
In some cases, this is true. However, it can be difficult to have your direct supervisor as a mentor. For mentoring to be effective, there must be an environment of trust, honesty, balance, confidentiality and open dialogue. Mentees may not feel completely comfortable sharing their doubts, fears or future career plans with their current boss. Mentors on the other hand, may feel conflicted when they cannot separate information disclosed by a mentee when making decisions about performance reviews, giving a promotion or a raise to the employee. When you have a mentor-mentee relationship with your boss it is great, however, an external mentor may be able to offer objective advice as an individual outside of your organization on things like office politics, seeking advancement or dealing with a difficult client.

Myth #5: Mentors are always executives.
Some of our business mentors are in an executive role, but anyone willing to share their knowledge, skills and experience can be a mentor. Mentoring For Success has mentors from many different career fields — business, marketing, accounting, HR, as well as finance, insurance, office administration, social services, entrepreneurs, technology, medical careers, emergency services and more. We are committed to searching out a mentor for every mentee that comes to us.

Kick-start your career with Mentoring For Success today! Apply online at: Join before the end of the month so you can attend our first FREE event on Wednesday, September 26 — learn and practice effective Networking Skills with us!