What does it take to be successful? Most people would say it’s a combination of talent, skill, hard work, and luck, among other things. It’s true that being successful depends on a plethora of personal traits as well as timing, but oftentimes we overlook that success is never accomplished alone. I would argue that one thing commonly left off of this list is a strong mentor.
According to the Mentoring Support Network, “Mentoring is sharing knowledge, skills and life experience to guide another towards reaching their full potential; it’s a journey of shared discovery. Mentoring is a positive, supportive relationship, encouraging young people to develop to their fullest potential. A mentor can be a role model, coach, sounding board, voice of reason, counselor and a trusted resource. Mentors care and assure their mentee that they are not alone in dealing with day-to-day challenges. They help them believe that they matter.”
What are the benefits of having a mentor?
Improved career outcomes. Researchers compared the various career outcomes of mentored and non-mentored employees [Allen et al., 2004]. Mentored employees, compared to non-mentored employee:
- Receive higher compensation
- Receive a greater number of promotions
- Feel more satisfied with their career
- Feel more committed to their career
- Are more likely to believe that they will advance in their career
Employee engagement. Employees who were part of a mentoring relationship had significantly higher engagement scores than employees who were not [Sange & Srivastava, 2012]. Mentored employees:
- Felt more positively about their organization as a place to work for
- Felt more positively about their organization’s senior leadership
- Believed their organization provided opportunities for career growth
- Felt informed about the future course of their organization
Employee retention. Mentoring has been found to reduce turnover [Joiner et al., 2004].
- When over 5,000 newly hired sales representatives were surveyed, those who indicated that they were part of a mentoring relationship reported significantly higher organizational commitment and lower intentions to leave their organization than did non-mentored respondents [Brashear et al., 2006].
Employee inclusion. A formal mentoring program can be beneficial for racial and gender minority employees, who otherwise might not be chosen as an informal mentee. The structure of a formal mentoring program can:
- Provide access to mentors across racial and ethnic lines [Kutlik & Roberson. 2008].
Mentor benefits. The benefits of a mentoring relationship are not limited to mentees either; employees who act as mentors:
- Report greater job satisfaction and organizational commitment [Ghosh & Reio, 2013]
- Have greater career success [Ghosh & Reio, 2013]
- Perceive increased work-related fulfillment [Kennett & Lomas, 2015]
Mentoring is important, not only because of the knowledge and skills gained from mentors, but also because mentoring provides professional socialization and personal support to facilitate success in graduate school and beyond. Students who experience good mentoring also have a greater chance of securing academic tenure-track positions, or greater career advancement potential in administration or sectors outside the university. I encourage you to look at your personal and professional network, and try to cultivate a mentor/mentee relationship within the field.
Ashley Hughes, AuD, SAA Advisory Committee (SAAAC) Chair
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