For the Mentor

Mentoring is just-in-time help, insight into issues, and the sharing of expertise, values, skills, and perspectives. Mentors function as a catalyst—an agent that provokes a reaction that might not otherwise have taken place or speeds up a reaction that might have taken place in the future.

The Decision to Mentor

Research shows that mentors have much to gain from a mentoring relationship. The opportunity to share their expertise is an important motivator for mentors. Demonstrating the ability to identify and develop new talent can enhance a mentor's own career. Mentors are often motivated by a perceived need they note in a mentee, or they remember being mentored themselves and want to do the same for someone else. Mentoring younger professionals provides the opportunity to acquire a fresh perspective on professional issues or personal issues such as work/life balance. Many find being a mentor to be a rewarding activity that contributes to the organization and the profession.

Mentors should be careful to understand what they are hoping to get from a mentoring relationship as well as what they have to offer.

Mentoring commitments vary widely. More traditional mentoring impose moderate commitments in an ongoing fashion, from a few months up to a year or more. Speed-mentoring events and mentor-matched conference meetups are brief encounters (10 to 30 minutes each) without ongoing expectations. These brief conversations often prove fruitful and may surface opportunities for a longer-term relationship. Micro-mentoring entails light commitment (up to a month) to reach a short-term goal. This works well when resources are constrained. 

A mentee can benefit from exposure to multiple mentors over time. It may also prove the viability of a longer-term mentoring relationship, should circumstances allow.