Posted by Robert Half Legal on Thursday, October 8, 2015 - 08:00 | Follow me
Mentoring, in the form of advice, words of encouragement or a test audience for your ideas, can be an invaluable tool in your personal and professional development. Equally useful, acting as mentor can give your career a big boost, too. Here’s a look at both sides to see just what makes these relationships so fruitful.
How mentors can help advance your career
From recent law grads to partners, every legal professional can benefit from mentoring. Mentors can help you bounce back from a blunder, advance your legal career to the next stage or simply navigate the day-to-day complexities of your work.
Receiving coaching before entering unfamiliar territory will put you on solid footing, and having a sounding board to talk about your ideas will give you confidence to put the good ones into action. Your mentor doesn’t need to have all the answers. The right one will be able to ask you the right questions, helping you find your own way to a solution.
Many organizations offer in-house mentoring projects, but there are no rules about who your mentor should be. You can approach a colleague, a teacher, a member of your professional network or even the individual behind that social media account you admire. It’s all about finding someone who understands your industry and is willing to help you work toward your own specific goals and objectives.
The starting point of any mentoring relationship should be a discussion about career goals and personal objectives. Be honest, and choose a mentor who you feel understands the journey ahead and who gets you as a person.
One thing to remember: Never be afraid to disagree with your mentor. You’re the one who has to live with the consequences of their advice. And mentors need to understand that while their role is to offer guidance, mentees should be encouraged to make independent decisions.
Why being a mentor is a win-win situation
Good mentoring relationships benefit both parties. Beyond the feel-good factor of helping out a fellow legal professional, talking through issues can help you learn about your profession while you both gain insights about yourselves as individuals.
The key to a fruitful relationship is a willingness to listen. Not only will your pearls of wisdom be better received if they’re appropriate to the individual with whom you’re working, but even a master mentor can learn a lot from a mentee, too.
Conversations with a colleague you’re mentoring can give you fresh insights into areas you thought you knew well. Helping someone else tackle problems can boost your own critical thinking powers and provide a new perspective on your own situation.
Guiding individuals through their careers will help keep them happy at work and loyal to your organization, meaning you’re surrounded by colleagues of a higher quality. That’s something the entire team will appreciate, and you’ll be viewed as promoting workplace harmony.
Nobody makes it to the top of the legal profession alone. Those who succeed get the best out of those around them. Through mentoring you can help others — and help yourself — learn, grow and achieve success.
One way to make yourself a more effective mentor is to be on top of trends in your profession. You can start by taking a look at Robert Half's research on legal trends, salaries and more.