Why Having a Mentor is Critical for Your Career Growth and Success

It’s likely we see the value in having mentors that help us navigate our careers. We see mentors as guides and advisors that can help us take our careers to the next level.

*This guest blog post about mentorship was contributed by Ryan Carruthers, content marketing manager at Together Software.

Despite the consensus that mentorship is beneficial, not every company encourages mentoring relationships to support employee development. For instance, the Talent Mobility Research Report found that over 40 percent of organizations said they did not provide this type of support to employees.

The reason for the disconnect between the value we see in mentorship and why companies don’t offer it may be a flawed mindset. Companies may feel that the job of career development rests on the employees’ shoulders. They should take the initiative — shouldn’t they? And performance reviews and feedback from managers should be enough to point employees in the right direction.

Leaders with this mindset misunderstand the role of mentorship — a relationship that’s altogether different from relationships people have with their managers. Because of this, they also miss out on the benefits of mentorship. One study found that companies promoted employees who were:

If employees are moving up the career ladder faster with mentorship they must be doing a good job.

Let’s unpack the specific reasons mentorship is crucial to building a successful career as well as outlining how to find a mentor, how you can help your organization change its mindset around mentorship and the role mentoring plays in the workplace.

Having a strong mentor can be a game-changer for your career Mentors provide guidance, support, and invaluable advice to help you reach your goals and maximize your potential With their wisdom and experience, mentors illuminate pathways to advancement while inspiring you to keep developing professionally.

Let’s explore the multitude of benefits you can gain from having a mentor as well as how to cultivate these mentoring relationships.

What is a Mentor and How Do They Help Your Career?

A mentor is an experienced individual who takes an active interest in your career development by providing advice, coaching, and advocacy. Unlike your manager, a mentor is solely focused on helping you succeed in both your current role and long-term career.

Mentors give advice and feedback to help you:

  • Set career goals and formulate plans to meet them
  • Improve skills that allow you to take on new responsibilities
  • Gain visibility and secure promotions
  • Expand your network and discover new opportunities
  • Develop leadership abilities and interpersonal skills
  • Boost confidence in your abilities
  • Navigate organizational culture and politics

They also provide letters of recommendation, connect you with influential people, discuss your concerns, and challenge you to grow. Mentors take satisfaction in imparting their knowledge to help you maximize your potential.

Now let’s explore the key benefits you gain from having a strong mentor advocate for you.

7 Key Benefits of Having a Mentor

  1. Gain invaluable career advice and guidance – Mentors share key insights on career moves and strategies based on their extensive experience. Their knowledgeable advice can be instrumental in important decisions.

  2. Develop new skills – Mentors coach you on building hard and soft skills critical for advancement like communication, leadership, and technical abilities.

  3. Stay focused on goals – Mentors help you set SMART development goals and create plans for achieving them. They keep you accountable.

  4. Boost confidence – Validating your talents and providing encouragement helps you gain assurance in your abilities. Mentors build up your confidence.

  5. Expand your network – Mentors connect you with key contacts and introduce you to senior leaders to grow your network.

  6. Gain visibility – Mentors advocate for you by recommending you for advancement opportunities and projects.

  7. Receive honest feedback – Mentors provide candid, constructive feedback to help you identify growth areas and improve performance.

The wisdom and support mentors selflessly provide can fast-track your career success and enhance your leadership skills exponentially. Let’s look at how to find the perfect mentor.

Where Can You Find a Good Mentor?

Great mentors can be found in many places if you’re proactive in seeking them out. Look for mentors who have experience in your desired career path and whom you respect. Here are some strategies:

  • Identify leaders in your company – Respected senior managers with 20+ years experience make ideal mentors. Seek those invested in developing talent.

  • Network in your industry – Attend conferences and events to connect with accomplished professionals in your field who may mentor you.

  • Check professional associations – Many industry associations have formal mentorship pairings or the ability to identify potential mentors.

  • Connect with former bosses – Approach previous managers you admired about an informal mentoring relationship.

  • Meet people informally – Talk to promising mentor candidates you meet through colleagues, events, etc. to build a relationship.

  • Use social media – Platforms like LinkedIn allow you to connect with experienced professionals and message them.

  • Try mentoring programs – Seek formal mentorship programs through professional groups, alumni associations, or your HR department.

Look for mentors who are actively interested in advising and advocating for others. Make sure your work philosophies align. Leverage any connections you have to get introductions to respected leaders who could mentor you.

Once you identify promising mentors, directly ask them to advise you. Share why you admire them and feel they would be an ideal mentor. Now let’s examine how to cultivate a strong mentoring relationship.

Tips for Developing a Strong Mentor/Mentee Relationship

To build an effective mentoring connection:

  • Define goals and expectations upfront – Discuss what you hope to gain from the mentorship so you’re aligned. Agree on frequency of meetings.

  • Actively listen to their advice – Apply your mentor’s advice to show you value their guidance. Provide updates on your progress.

  • Prepare for meetings – Come ready with questions and growth areas you want to discuss. Send recaps after meetings.

  • Respect their time – Keep scheduled meetings. Be judicious in seeking impromptu time with your valuable mentor.

  • Follow through on commitments – Do what you say you will do. Follow their recommendations to the best of your ability.

  • Express appreciation – Recognize the time and energy they invest. Share how their mentorship makes a real difference.

  • Don’t become dependent – Absorb their advice but develop your own solutions. Your growth is what matters most.

To enrich the mentor bond, look for opportunities to add value, assist your mentor, and introduce them to others. This mutually beneficial connection will evolve over years to come.

Formal vs Informal Mentoring Relationships

Mentoring relationships can be formal or informal. Here’s the difference:


  • Organized by company or professional association
  • Matches based on goals and experience
  • Scheduled meetings for set duration
  • Clear objectives and expectations
  • More structured partnership


  • Develops spontaneously without external help
  • Based on mutual interests and rapport
  • Meetings organized as needed by participants
  • Goals and expectations less defined
  • More flexible, organic relationship

While informal mentoring develops naturally, formal programs help facilitate matches and provide guidelines. But meaningful engagement, intimacy and commitment ultimately determine the relationship’s success either way.

How Can Organizations Facilitate Mentorships?

Forward-looking companies realize mentoring is essential for developing talent and retaining employees. Here’s how they provide mentoring opportunities:

  • Launch a mentoring program – Formal programs allow matching based on development needs and mentor qualifications. Provide training and tools to participants.

  • Train managers on mentoring – Require first-line managers to mentor their direct reports and provide coaching on best practices.

  • Host mentorship events – Create relationship-building opportunities between potential mentors and mentees through mixers, conferences sessions, etc.

  • Recognize strong mentors – Praise managers who develop talent and reward them for time spent mentoring.

  • Provide platforms to connect – Use intranet sites, internal forums or apps to enable virtual mentor/mentee matching.

  • Offer group mentoring – Group mentoring allows one experienced leader to advise multiple developing employees at once.

  • Encourage informal relationships – Cultivate a culture that celebrates informal mentorships forming through internal networking.

  • Share mentoring stories – Profile successful mentoring relationships in company publications to showcase benefits.

Facilitating mentoring inside your organization leads to immense benefits in employee satisfaction, engagement, retention and advancement. Employees gain access to the coveted insights and guidance that mentors provide.

Few investments pay dividends as handsomely as cultivating strong mentoring relationships. Mentors generously provide their hard-won knowledge and connections to see you succeed. Their invaluable guidance can fast-track your career advancement and development.

Seek respected leaders to mentor you. Clarify your goals and take an active role in the partnership. Absorb their priceless advice and act on their feedback. Aim to enrich the relationship by assisting your mentor whenever possible.

At all career stages, we need others who believe in us, push us to improve, and selflessly give their time to help us grow. So find inspiring mentors, learn from their wisdom, and work to become an equally impactful mentor yourself one day. The returns of this investment will be immense, for both you and your organization.

why is a mentor important

Mentors expand your network and open up doors to new opportunities

Through mentorship, mentees can expand their network and gain access to other people in various ways. Mentors can share their connections directly with mentees. Alternatively, a mentor may introduce a mentee to one or two key individuals to help with the mentee’s career development or goals. This further increases the mentee’s confidence because they can get out of their comfort zone, develop their soft skills, and gain access to new opportunities as they meet new people.

Don’t look to your direct manager

The role of your manager or supervisor is to make sure that the team meets its goals. They’re like a coach in a way. But they are not entirely focused on your career journey. Your boss may play a key role in your development, but it’s best to seek a third party for mentorship. It gives you a different perspective that can be beneficial. For that reason, it’s important to separate the two and understand the difference between mentorship and coaching.

What I Got Wrong About Mentorship | Simon Sinek

What are the benefits of mentoring?

Large organizations are increasingly seeing the benefits of mentoring as they learn that mentoring initiatives improve employee retention, increase profits, and help build a strong company culture. Currently, 84% of Fortune 500 companies and 100% of Fortune 50 companies have mentoring programs. Get your promotion. Make your career change.

Why should a mentee Trust a mentor?

A trusting mentorship relationship enables honest feedback. By establishing trust, the mentee understands that constructive criticism aims to build their professional growth rather than make them feel inadequate. Mentors can identify weaknesses and advise mentees on ways to improve in specific areas.

Why is mentorship important?

Mentorship is a great pathway for enhancing employee skills, advocating toward organizationwide diversity and driving the desired impact of corporate culture with far-reaching impact on employee development. At an individual level, mentorship is insightful and beneficial.

How can a mentee benefit from a mentorship program?

Through mentorship, mentees can expand their network and gain access to other people in various ways. Mentors can share their connections directly with mentees. Alternatively, a mentor may introduce a mentee to one or two key individuals to help with the mentee’s career development or goals.

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