Mentoring can provide much needed additional support to an apprentice, helping them understand their role in the business, develop their career path, and provide a listening ear if they’re facing any problems and challenges.
However, you may not have considered the benefits mentoring can bring to the wider business and the mentors themselves. Here are just some of the benefits we’ve identified:
Mentoring builds excellent questioning and listening skills
The best mentors are those that actively listen and ask the right questions to help their mentee reflect on his or her professional experience. It’s not a mentor’s job to be an all knowing oracle, instead they are there to ask questions, listen attentively and share their experience and knowledge in order to help the apprentice develop their own resourcefulness. Mentors have reported that further developing great questioning and listening skills as mentors has been surprisingly effective in other areas of their professional and personal lives too, such as managing their team, working with customers or suppliers, or even with the challenges of personal relationships!
Mentoring requires self-reflection and widens knowledge
Supporting an apprentice helps mentors become more aware of their own areas of development, highlighting areas where they might not have considered that they need more knowledge. Mentors are encouraged to record thoughts and ideas after mentoring sessions and use them as part of their development as a manager. Mentoring is a two-way street, and many also report that they also feel that they’ve learnt more from their mentee and the process of mentoring than they anticipated. New apprentices can bring new ideas and skills, and mentors are at the front line, being able learn from those ideas themselves and help the apprentice successfully apply these to the business. Good mentors are keen to learn as much as they’re willing to share.
Mentoring builds role models
Allocating mentoring roles to managers and senior apprentices in the businesses sends a clear message to new starters about the potential for their role and the kind of work ethic and qualities that are valued. Also those that develop trust and respect with their mentees can become even more influential role models. Allocating mentoring roles to previous apprentices can also build confidence in management skills, particularly for those just moving into more senior roles in the business, and this in turn can inspire them to become good role models to those just starting out.
Mentoring builds a culture of mutual respect
Excellent mentoring relationships are built on mutual trust and respect between the mentor and mentee. Mentoring requires the mentor to get to know the apprentice and discuss their career aspirations as well as sometimes their life outside the business too. Mentoring builds a culture where each person’s contribution and career goals are valued, and where individuals are encouraged to take ownership of their learning and consider what skills they need to develop to best contribute to the business’ success.
Good mentoring skills can support good management skills
Many of the skills associated with good mentoring can equally support good management skills too. Mentors learn to empathise with the apprentice, listen to their concerns and how it might impact their performance, and draw on their own experience and knowledge to support them in a constructive way. Ultimately mentoring aims to bring out the best in the apprentice, which in turn achieves the best results for the business too.
Does this ring true for your business? We’d love to feature examples of how mentoring has worked out for apprentices and mentors in your business, get in touch here.
If your business or organisation is interested in developing mentoring skills to support apprentices take a look at our mentoring apprentices training course here.