Mentoring programmes are increasingly popular among professionals, offering them the opportunity to improve their professionals skills, develop greater confidence and build relationships with senior staff.
Sunaina Sinha addressed an audience of HR professionals from a range of industries and sectors to share her experience and insights as both a mentor and a mentee, and to discuss the latest research into this topic from Robert Walters.
Sunaina emphasised the importance of mentoring relationships throughout any professional career, regardless of your level of seniority.
"I have always aimed to create a personal 'board of directors' - a group of people who I can engage with as a sounding board when I'm seeking professional advice," Sunaina explained.
"These connections need to be reciprocal for a mentoring relationship to be as effective as possible. Even if you are in a less senior role, you will still have valuable insights and advice which you can share with your mentor."
Sunaina also referenced the findings of the Robert Walters research and warned against trying to over-regulate a mentoring programme.
"Providing structure to a mentoring programme is important to help both the mentor and the mentee aware of how they can support one another effectively. However, employers must be careful not to impose 'mandatory' mentoring programmes, as any such relationship must feel authentic and genuine to be effective," Sunaina added.
For mentoring programmes to be truly effective, it is important that mentors help mentees to develop skills to overcome the challenges they face, rather than simply providing prescriptive instructions. One way to ensure that this is the case is for mentors to seek feedback from their mentees on how useful and effective they are finding the relationship.
"Creating an environment where mentees feel comfortable giving genuine, authentic feedback can be challenging," Sunaina explained.
"Ultimately, building a culture of openness must start at the top. Mentors who are prepared to be open and authentic towards their mentees can develop a relationship where they are more likely to receive valuable feedback."
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