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A little time can make a big difference when you become a work mentor

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We all know about the benefits of “paying it forward.” But how many of us put that concept to use in the workforce?

One of the best and most lasting ways is to serve as a mentor. Most of us owe at least a little of our workplace success to someone who took the time to guide us. Sometimes, that person was someone we already knew. Other times, the partnership came about by happenstance. However it happened, we became better employees and people through the relationship.

Now, it’s our opportunity to return the favor. Here are a few of the many reasons why we should lend our experience and guidance to a colleague at the workplace.

It helps the company

Step up and volunteer to help a colleague. Establish regular meetings, share your cell number and stop by your mentee’s workstation for informal and even non-work related chats. Let the mentee guide the conversations. A more confident and energized employee will be valuable and loyal to the company.

It helps you, too

We all feel better when we can be helpful. It gives our work lives greater purpose. Watching a mentee become more competent makes us feel as if we’re contributing beyond our job descriptions. As a bonus, mentors often pick up a little knowledge from their mentees along the way.

Your advice is free

If your mentee is younger, chances are he or she is limited financially. The colleague might not be able to join many professional associations or attend conferences. The advice he or she receives from you can help shape a career. You may even be training one of your company’s future leaders.

You can deliver a dose of reality

Feedback, both positive and negative, is essential to the relationship. Celebrate the victories and learn from the defeats. A mentor has to be willing to deliver constructive criticism when warranted. The mentee will never learn if you’re not honest.

Mentees often need a cheerleader

Young employees deserve our support. If you are a respected voice at your company, your assistance becomes even more valuable. If your mentee is showing potential, share the news with leadership. If your company is big enough, management might not even know the person’s name. You can help change that.

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