Younger workers are often focused on their own development and achievements, and rightly so. The early years of building a successful career should focus on cultivating skills and experiences that one can tap into later in one’s career.
However, as executives get closer to the end of their careers, they often start to look more outside themselves. Realizing that they won’t be working forever, they start to think about what their organization might be like when they’re retired, and what kind of legacy they will leave. Executives nearing retirement may think, “Will my work be erased or forgotten? Or will my lessons and values live on through others?”
Professionals who want to build their career legacy should look to business mentoring. A business mentorship can be profoundly rewarding for the mentor. Plus, it doesn’t necessarily require a huge time investment on the part of the business mentor. Organizations that are wanting to retain their older employees should consider establishing a business mentoring program to entice their older employees to stay with the organization longer.
Mentoring others can be rewarding.
Many business mentors report that their experience in a professional mentorship program is deeply rewarding. Some business mentors are motivated by the desire to “pay it forward” and provide others with the same help, advice, and development opportunities that helped them become successful. Other business mentors are motivated to give others the support that they wish their younger self had received, or they’re motivated to provide career support to groups that have traditionally been marginalized in the business world.
Business mentoring can also be about imparting values on others and sharing lessons learned. This type of knowledge, sometimes referred to as tacit knowledge as opposed to explicit knowledge, isn't easy to transfer to other people. However, when a mentor and mentee develop a certain level of trust and rapport, they can talk openly about a wide variety of topics and experiences. A mentor can prompt a mentee to reflect on experiences, think through implications of decisions, and thoughtfully weigh pros and cons. These dialogues can help mentors impart important lessons, principles and values on the mentee.
When a business mentor has multiple mentees, professional mentorship can have a multiplying effect. As the business mentor imparts specific values on the mentees, the mentees can embody these values, and pass them along to others.
Also read: The Benefits of Mentoring for the Mentor
A small time investment on the part of the mentor can pay dividends.
Some busy executives may think that they are too busy to mentor up-and-coming leaders. However, it doesn’t necessarily take a lot of time for a business mentor to make an impact with a mentee.
At the beginning of the business mentorship, the mentor and mentee should establish a clear mentoring plan to spell out each person’s responsibilities. Typically, the mentee is responsible for driving the relationship forward (the mentee handles scheduling all meetings, for example). This can help minimize the time commitment on the part of the business mentor.
Additionally, organizations that use mentoring software make it easy for business mentors to be prepared for their meetings with their mentee. Mentoring software can provide just-in-time mentor training for business mentors, as well as automate things like check-ins with the mentoring program coordinator and the mentee. As a result, with even a small investment of time, a good business mentor can be able to make a big impact on the growth and development of the mentee.
Also read: 7 Ways Mentoring Can Help Career Development
A business mentoring program can help companies retain their older employees.
Many employees nearing retirement may not be motivated by the same things that motivate younger employees. For example, a successful executive may have already accomplished all of their personal career goals. They may be at a point where they are materially and financially secure. As a result, retirement or other pursuits become more and more appealing to employees, and companies may find that offering things like developmental opportunities or higher compensation may not be effective in retaining these individuals.
Conversely, starting a formal mentoring program can be an excellent strategy to retain older employees. These employees are often very interested in building their career legacy and helping develop the next generation of leaders for the organization. Professional mentoring opportunities can be a big part of a meaningful work experience for employees nearing retirement.
There’s a widespread assumption that it’s the mentee that benefits the most from a formal mentoring relationship. And yes, a professional mentorship is typically designed around the mentee’s developmental needs, and a mentoring program’s success is typically evaluated based on outcomes related to the mentee. However, the benefits of mentoring for the mentor can be tremendous as well. Building a career legacy is an important part of building a successful career, and organizations can help their employees build their legacy through a business mentoring program.