Women rarely get effective formal or informal mentoring and often don’t have time to network. Mentoring is instrumental in developing women’s confidence, skills, profile and reputation. It also prompts women to think about their careers with more optimism and ambition – and, it doesn’t have to be a huge drain on your time.
Many of my clients actively mentor junior women. Others are busy, over committed and frustrated about the expectation that they should assume responsibility for the development of other women. How can they possibly find time to do their jobs and be a mentor as well?
It is critical that women encourage and support each other in the workplace, and there are time effective ways to add the greatest value.
Being a mentor does not need to be at your expense. Like other roles, it can be integrated into your day job. Be creative, leverage others within your organisation to enhance the mentoring experience and delegate some of the ‘skills development’.
The greatest contribution you can make is to pay attention to the development and career of another woman, be encouraging and be honest.
Here’s some ways you could make a difference:
· Host an informal lunch discussion with a group of women who share some demographic commonality – for example, all executive women who work part time, or women who’ve recently returned from maternity leave. Invite the group to share their experiences, challenges and strategies. Senior women in particular have less opportunity to share their experiences. Such a discussion will normalise them and reduce isolation.
· Provide honest feedback about anything you see affecting another woman’s credibility, reputation or profile. Avoid thinking that it’s better not to hurt her feelings than tell the truth!
· Invite a woman to shadow you for a day. At the end of the day ask for her honest feedback about what she thinks went well in your day and what didn’t. You may get some valuable insights. Then discuss what she learned.
· Refer women to professionals for time consuming activities like reviewing a resume, preparing for an interview or teaching some technical skill.
· Encourage your mentee to schedule meetings with your peers – then make an introductory call on her behalf and sing her praises.
· Invite your mentee her to executive meetings and introduce her positively to the group.
· Invite her to attend external professional events, forums and seminars with you.
· Regularly ask her for feedback about you, and discuss ideas, strategies and perspectives, it may assist you develop your ideas.