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Mentoring: A selfless act that pays personal benefits

By Wallace Immen. Published on May 25th, 2011 in The Globe and Mail.

Executives who act as mentors receive a lot in return, a Canadian survey has found.

The poll of 270 chief financial officers found 54 per cent had become a mentor for an employee in their organization, either formally or informally, at some point in their career.

Of those that did, 54 per cent said their greatest reward was a feeling of satisfaction from helping someone succeed. Another 22 per cent said the biggest benefit was improving their leadership skills in the process, 18 per cent said it gave them an incentive to stay current on industry trends and 3 per cent said it expanded their professional network. Just 3 per cent said they received no benefit in return, the survey by staffing service Robert Half Management Resources found.

Mentoring has become more essential in today’s fast-changing business environment and executives who seek out opportunities can receive much more than they give, recommended Robert Half Management Canadian district president David King. His advice:

  • Teach your lessons
    Consider things you learned the hard way that can help others avoid mistakes.
  • Don’t wait to be asked
    If your organization doesn’t have a mentoring program, take the initiative by identifying someone you think you can help and extend the offer.
  • It’s not just for rookies
    At any level, those eager to advance or looking for a new direction will likely welcome your advice and the company will benefit from the result.
  • Don’t do all the talking
    Sometimes the most valuable role you can play is that of a sounding board.
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