Mentorship is more than just a buzzword – it can be a key ingredient to success, whether you’re a one-man start-up, a growing team or working as part of a large organisation.
According to research, millennials in the workforce believe mentorship is a key ingredient to professional development. Those who intend to stay with an organisation for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor than not1.
For some of Australia’s leading business founders, in 2019 there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to mentorship. Instead, there are a number of dynamic mentoring methods for the modern business landscape, allowing for professional growth to be more flexible and diverse than ever before.
Brad Krauskopf, CEO and Founder of Hub Australia, says that a modern way to approach mentorship is to think about it as building a tribe of advisors: “To start an enterprise like Hub Australia, it takes a thousand coffees and advice from hundreds of people. If you’re starting out in business, take the time to think of who you’d like to include in your network of mentors and how they can help guide you when you need to seek advice, whatever the situation may be. For me, that’s where a co-working space can really add value, as you’re constantly surrounded by a diverse community of people to lean on for knowledge.”
Adina Jacobs, Co-Founder of STM Goods says that it can benefit to see modern mentoring as a ‘reverse’ process: “In my experience, mentoring can be a two-way street and something that is mutually beneficial. The questions I am asked by my mentees can spark a thought that will inspire me to think about how I run my business from a different perspective.”
Jacobs continues, “Don’t discount lack of experience for lack of knowledge – junior people coming up through the ranks can offer a fresh perspective, as they have grown up surrounded by technology and social media. It’s really important to take a step back and look at the variety of opportunities you can put yourself in on a macro level, as they can open up new and valuable relationships with mentors that you may have not traditionally considered.”
- Every connection counts
It’s a common misconception that paid for mentorships either yield more value or provide more support. According to Brad, mentoring doesn’t have to be a formal one-on-one sit down for an hour. Instead, seek mentorship in small, everyday connections – bouncing ideas off of a friend or old colleague over a coffee, or even browsing the internet and listening to podcasts can often provide a fresh perspective and prove just as beneficial.
2. Preparation is key
For Adina, no matter how formal or informal your mentor meetings may be, a little structure and preparation beforehand are absolutely vital. If you go into the meeting unclear on what you’re looking to get out of it, you are unlikely to return with anything of tangible use, so set a clear agenda in your mind and make sure you stick to it.
3. Set your own goals
Mentors are a sounding board who can provide invaluable advice, experience and guidance, but they don’t have all the answers and can’t make business decisions for you, that’s something that you will always remain accountable for. Remember to stick to your goals and keep your objectives clear, says Brad.
4. Give the relationship a clear timeframe
Keep in mind that mentors are busy people. For Adina, one of the most impressive mentees she has had approached her with a clear timeframe for how many sessions they’d like to have with her, how long they’d like them to run, what she needed to do (which was nothing, as the mentee set the agenda) and where and when to meet. This approach showed respect for Adina’s time and recognition that it was in short supply.
5. One mentor isn’t enough
For Brad, a mentor is a hugely personal fit and there will never be a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Throughout your career, you will come across a variety of milestones that require different types of advice and experience to draw on. Surround yourself with a network of people that can be called upon whatever the situation, whether they’re business professionals, friends, old colleagues or internet forums, it’s great to have a variety of experience on hand.