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Mentorship is a 2-way Street; Both People Benefit

My local ATD chapter recently piloted a mentoring program for our members. One of the pilot participants, Bethany Kline, had the opportunity to mentor someone and be mentored by another person, which gave her a unique perspective on the impact and benefits of both sides of the mentoring relationship. This week, Bethany (who, last year as a guest on the Train Like You Listen podcast, gave her perspective on the topic: Can Curiosity Be Taught?) shared some of her thoughts and reflections on these experiences, which are captured below:

I recently got the opportunity to take part in ATD Puget Sound’s mentorship program pilot, where I participated as both a mentor and a mentee. I learned firsthand that there are many benefits to participating in a mentorship program, no matter which role you play. From reflecting on the experience, I’m hoping to share the benefits–if you’re on the fence about participating in a mentorship program in your network or at your workplace, I encourage you to give it a go! 

My Experience as a Mentee 

I had already worked with my mentor on the ATD Puget Sound Board, so we were able to ease into our mentorship with ease. My mentor and I decided that I would set the topic for each of our biweekly meetings. When I was really on top of it, I shared some work samples or general topics that I wanted to discuss a few days in advance. This gave my mentor some time to prepare, which really enhanced the quality of our discussions. I also enjoyed having a neutral space, agnostic to my work environment, to ask questions and get feedback from another L&D professional.

My Experience as a Mentor

Unlike my mentee experience, I had never met the individual I had been paired with as a mentor. It took us about two meetings to fully get to know each other and for me to learn about their goals and what they were looking to get out of the mentor program. Once we had discussed goals, we decided that we would meet weekly. Similar to my experience as a mentee, I encouraged my mentee to set the agenda and topics for each of our meetings. It didn’t take many meetings for us to find our rhythm and dive into the mentee’s challenges. I purposefully took more of a ‘coach approach’ rather than traditional mentoring, and I believe this was extremely helpful in making progress towards our outlined goals. This probably doesn’t come as a surprise to many L&D professionals, since we know that building accountability and creating action plans leads to changes in behavior, rather than just hearing about your mentor’s experiences. 

Mentorship Benefits

Benefits for both mentees and mentors:

  • Building relationships: This one is obvious, but it is certainly a positive outcome worth mentioning. I’m excited to continue to stay in touch with both my mentor and mentee, and I am certain the learning will continue! 

Benefits for the mentor: 

  • Providing a unique perspective: It was such a fulfilling experience when I could see that my guidance and perspective changed the way my mentee was approaching a problem. 
  • Developing mentoring and coaching skills: This program gave me the opportunity to practice both my mentoring and coaching skills. While I’m privileged to get to do this in my job, this can be even more valuable for those who don’t get to flex these skills on a regular basis at your day job. 

Benefits for the mentee:  

  • Gaining a new perspective: My mentor provided a valuable ‘outsider’ perspective that I might not have considered otherwise. 
  • Gaining confidence: I felt more confident from getting constructive feedback about my work or how I was approaching a problem. 

Everyone’s experiences will differ. Have you ever participated in a mentorship program? If so, what benefits did you take from the experience? Let us know in the comments! 

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