Why mentorship is important in the modern workplace

Mentors from Fast Forward 15, an award-winning scheme which champions women in the events industry, discuss why a ‘mentorship mentality’ is important in the modern workplace. We asked them;

  • How can companies create a mentoring culture that supports a “mentorship mentality?”
  • Has mentoring others, helped you in your own career?
  • Do you think reverse mentoring is beneficial in modern workplaces and why?
  • How should people go about finding a mentor?

See also: The truth about unconscious bias training

How can companies create a culture that supports a “mentorship mentality?”

Moya Maxwell - RIBA mentorship
Moya Maxwell – RIBA

I believe that senior managers should be encouraging employees to seek out a mentor who is not necessarily part of the company otherwise there is too much group thinking internally and not enough fresh ideas injected into each role.

Moya Maxwell, Director of Venues at Royal Institute of British Architects

John Kelly, Marketing Director of BCD Meetings & Events mentorship
John Kelly, Marketing Director of BCD Meetings & Events

It’s something that can be difficult to achieve in an internal work environment as staff can often feel that sharing their needs with colleagues leaves them exposed. I would always recommend initiatives like Fast Forward 15 as they’re entirely impartial.

John Kelly, Marketing Director of BCD Meetings & Events

Has mentoring others, helped you in your own career?

Fay Sharpe, Vice President of BCD Meeting & Events mentorship
Fay Sharpe, Vice President of BCD Meeting & Events

Via the mentoring programme, we’ve shone a light on gender imbalances and have helped initiate positive change. Through mentoring, I’ve received a number of industry awards and more recently the University of London has presented me with an honorary Doctorate.

Fay Sharpe, Vice President of BCD Meeting & Events

Nick Gold, Managing Director of Speakers Corner mentorship
Nick Gold, Managing Director of Speakers Corner

As a mentor, I draw on personal experiences in order to ask the right questions, but if the relationship has a good base, a mentee can also challenge my decisions and why they were made. This introspection then helps me to make better decisions in the future.

Nick Gold, Managing Director of Speakers Corner

Do you think reverse mentoring is beneficial in modern workplaces and why?

Fay Sharpe, Vice President of BCD Meeting & Events mentorship
Fay Sharpe, Vice President of BCD Meeting & Events

Absolutely. Firstly it’s good for junior employees in terms of building confidence and interacting with senior members of the business, but also allows senior management to challenge their long-held beliefs in the pursuit of continual development.

Fay Sharpe, Vice President of BCD Meeting & Events mentorship

Nick Gold, Managing Director of Speakers Corner mentorship
Nick Gold, Managing Director of Speakers Corner

Yes, generational differences are so stark in the workplace that everyone needs to be learning from each other, irrelevant of their seniority or experience. Being open to new ways of thinking is both imperative for success within a business, but also for personal development.

Nick Gold, Managing Director of Speakers Corner mentorship

Moya Maxwell - RIBA mentorship
Moya Maxwell – RIBA

I think that it is so important for a mentor to learn when to be quiet. As a manager you are tempted to delve straight in and give people all of the answers; a good leader will step back and empower an individual to work out the solutions for themselves.

Moya Maxwell, Director of Venues at Royal Institute of British Architects

John Kelly, Marketing Director of BCD Meetings & Events mentorship
John Kelly, Marketing Director of BCD Meetings & Events

Absolutely! It’s imperative that in any forward-thinking business you learn from more junior members of their company about what their future clients are going to be buying and how.

John Kelly, Marketing Director of BCD Meetings & Events

See also: Diversity tips for leaders

How should people go about finding a mentor?

Fay Sharpe, Vice President of BCD Meeting & Events mentorship
Fay Sharpe, Vice President of BCD Meeting & Events

Firstly, consider what it is you want to achieve and how they can help. Then be sure to ask someone you respect and who is a good listener. Be prepared to give as well as take and ask yourself, ‘what’s in it for the mentor?’

Fay Sharpe, Vice President of BCD Meeting & Events

Moya Maxwell - RIBA mentorship
Moya Maxwell – RIBA

Talk to your line manager about relevant opportunities. Then look through your contacts and identify who you admire within your industry and see if someone can introduce you. People are always happy to share their experiences, even if it’s just over one coffee, resolving a certain issue.

Moya Maxwell, Director of Venues at Royal Institute of British Architects