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Common Mentoring Myths (and How to Bust Them)

July 25, 2022
Jeunais Farrell

While many people are familiar with mentoring as an important part of learning and development, there are many common myths and misconceptions about the practice. Mentoring is the act of matching mentors with a wide skillset, knowledge and experience base, with mentees that are looking for advice, wisdom and encouragement. However many advantages there are to mentoring, it is still widely misunderstood. Many companies believe that mentoring is not an important tool to implement within their business, when this is just not the case.

Here at Guider, we believe that mentoring is an essential, not just a nice-to-have.

There is an abundance of information out there around mentoring, and the benefits not just to the mentee but mentors too. Yet, there are common mentoring myths that still hold people back from starting or joining a mentoring program. 

Below, we discuss the common myths surrounding mentoring, as well as the truths of how we can bust these misconceptions.

Top Mentoring Myths 

❌ You can’t be a mentor early on in your career 

There is a common misconception that you’re too young to be a mentor if you’re only just starting out in your career and may lack the experience that more senior people may have. This is just not the case. Having a younger perception and perspective on your life, particularly if a younger mentor is supporting a younger mentee, can allow you to better relate to your mentee's experience than someone who may be older. Through peer mentoring and reverse mentoring, you will find that early career mentors are incredibly valuable. 

There really is no age limit on who can become a mentor. Instead it's important to focus on the key skills and characteristics that mentors need to be successful. Even in the early stages of our careers there is valuable wisdom that we can share.

❌ Someone can only be a mentor or a mentee

It is often thought that you can only be a mentor or a mentee and not do both. Although not every individual has the time or capacity to act as both mentor and mentee, there are individuals who have the capability to have dual roles. By having a mentor and acting as a mentor, individuals get the opportunity to learn and develop in both areas. This can accelerate their personal growth enormously.

❌ Mentoring is time consuming

It's true that mentoring takes dedication and commitment, which can often put professionals with busy schedules off. However, mentoring is not necessarily time-consuming. It just requires individuals to set times for mentoring around their workloads and other commitments. For example, scheduling sessions around breaks or over lunch when work is put to the side can help. Also, remembering that mentoring is an important part of professional development reminds you that it's ok to prioritise sessions over other tasks.

As a program lead, it's important to encourage people to take time for mentoring. One way to do this is by getting senior leaders active in mentoring. It sets up a culture of mentoring in your organisation that gives permission for others to put mentoring on their schedule.

❌ Mentoring doesn’t last very long

Sometimes mentoring is viewed as a short-term activity. This is often not the case and purely depends on the decision both the mentor and the mentee make collaboratively. In fact, some mentoring relationships will last for years! 

It is usually recommended that goals are established in a mentoring relationship, which then provides individuals with a set timeframe to achieve them. However, these sessions do not have to stop once your goals are reached. They can be extended further if the mentor and mentee feel as though they could benefit from further sessions, perhaps for check-ins to see how the mentee is progressing, as well as having the option to develop their connections and build a wider network.

❌ Mentoring matches need to be perfect

It is commonly assumed that you must find and match with a mentor that's perfect: someone with the same career path and background as you that fits your idea of a mentor. It is highly important mentees don’t let their preconceptions of a mentor determine their match. A mentor and mentee can still learn from each other without being in the same industry or job role, and in some cases may even be beneficial to not share industries or professionalism. Using mentoring software such as Guider, means that matches are made using smart AI that removes bias and widens peoples choices.

“A mentor can still provide a mentee with a different perspective on their life and still offer advice and support which can be highly beneficial, no matter what their profession is.” Naomi Ambrose, CEO of Talent Tap.

❌ Mentoring produces results overnight

We're sorry about this one, but mentoring is not a magic fix! The results of mentoring are not as quick as often assumed, with mentors motivating their mentees over time to answer their own questions by encouraging them to share their thoughts, their prior experiences, as well as the mentor offering access to resources that will benefit the mentee's career path. A mentoring relationship can also last longer than the sessions, it can benefit an individuals development throughout their whole life.

By investing in mentoring in the long-term, your people can reap the rewards for years to come!

❌ Needing a mentor shows weakness

Often, uptake of a mentoring program can be lower due to individuals not wanting to admit that they need help and are fearful that they may be judged. Yet this isn't true. Many celebrities have publicly discussed the impact their mentors had on their success, including Christian Dior, Richard Branson, and Oprah Winfrey. 

“It’s good to have a helping hand in your early career. I wouldn’t have got anywhere in the airline industry without the mentorship of Sir Freddie Laker.” Richard Branson

Mentoring is not only for novices looking for advice and support, but also for high-performing individuals who are looking to expand their skill-base further in different areas and fields. There are and always will be areas in which every single person can develop in. Instead of thinking asking for help from a mentor means weakness, remember that it's taking the initiative and being proactive to find the support you need to develop your skills further. Those participating in mentoring should be rewarded for taking their learning journey into their own hands.

So, there we have it, the top mentoring myths busted! These myths can distort how organisations view mentoring and prevent people realising the benefits that mentoring can provide. Of course, people can be successful without mentoring, but the perks that can be gained from mentoring are invaluable and can provide individuals with a wealth of knowledge beyond measure. As soon as mentoring myths are debunked and addressed, the sooner organisations, employers and managers can understand how important mentorship is for their morale and culture.

What are you waiting for? Book a demo with us today to find out how your organisation can benefit from mentoring!👇

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