There is lots of information out there about how mentoring is beneficial for businesses and contributes significantly to success. I received some mentoring in the early days of my business, but the cost associated with it (it’s not always free) and the limited time I had available meant it soon came to an end. More recently, however, I have been lucky enough to be accepted onto a Leadership Programme with PwC which also sees me assigned a mentor, whom I hope to fully take advantage of over the course of the year.
However, since founding my own business, it has given me a lot of opportunities to consider how we can better support young people entering the world of work, whether that be as an employee or as an entrepreneur.
The next generation
Young people far too often get a bad rep; you only have to go online to find a daily piece on why millennials are lazy or don’t stay within businesses as long as previous generations. If we consider how the world has changed in the past ten years, it is to be expected that the behaviours and expectations of the younger generation are vastly different to the generations before them but at the same time, they bring many positive aspects with them. Therefore, if we want to ensure that young people entering the workplace are prepared for our expectations then mentoring them is something all business owners should consider.
Since establishing KC Communications, we’ve had many students come through our doors to gain not only some hands-on experience but also insight on how to prepare for the world of work.
In the past two weeks alone we have had two young people in the office, one a Year 11 high school student undertaking a week of work experience and the other, a third-year university student. When a young person comes into the business, we do our very best to give them a real taste of what activities they would get up to on a daily basis in an environment like ours, but we also try to sit down with them on a 121 basis as much as possible and give them support and guidance to help them with the next step in either their education and career.
Last week I sat down with Amelia, our university placement student, to discuss with her the importance of personal branding and why and how to set up a LinkedIn profile. These are things not taught in the classroom, but it is something which is vitally important when it comes to Amelia taking those first steps on the career ladder once she graduates.
By having young people in the workplace to mentor also provides my junior members of staff with the opportunity to develop their mentoring skills which have many positive benefits on their career progression. For example, being able to demonstrate the ability to delegate effectively, managing workloads and priorities and ultimately demonstrating a team player ethic.
Why should you give up your time to mentor?
There are many reasons to mentor and the main reason I do it, is that when I set up my business, I wanted the opportunity to give something back to the local community. I also had very ad-hoc mentoring during the early stages of my career and feel that had it have been more structured I could have not only have climbed up the career ladder faster but delivered much higher outputs to the businesses I worked within.
However, for a small business like mine, mentoring offers many things. Ultimately, it is about providing the individual coming into the office with insight, support and skills development to help them progress, but it also enables business owners the opportunity to identify potential talent which could be recruited into the business at a later date. Not only that, but it is great to hear some of the ideas that come from them and gives us a fresh pair of eyes and new perspectives.
We’ve had some exceptional young people undertake placements with us who have then gone on to do some amazing things, and we’re extremely proud to have helped that to happen.
How to get involved
There are many ways to get involved with mentoring; it just depends on who it is you wish to mentor! It may be someone starting out in business; it might be a young person still in education, or perhaps an older person looking to change career paths.
If you are based in the Leeds City Region, there is the Enterprise Adviser service which is a partnership with schools, and I’ve also heard many positive things about the Mosaic Network. Alternatively, I would recommend reaching out to local universities, business support groups and even your professional network.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on mentoring this National Mentoring Day so tweet me @katrinacliffe using the hashtag #MentoringRocks.