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Lynda Shaw

Neuroscience Professional Development Programmes


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The 12 ways that mentorships can catalyse personal and professional growth

Is 2023 the year to encourage mentoring in your organisation to improve communication and boost EI?
Two people riding a bicycle into the sunshine illustration

As we establish goals and targets for the new year, the benefits of collaborative mentor relationships for personal and business growth should be kept in mind. Through supporting individual goals, business goals and targets can be met. 

1. Reducing stress and enabling clear thinking

Stress often manifests itself in the reduction of clarity and the ability to process clearly. This means that the amygdala (the area of the limbic system that processes fear, threatening stimuli and emotional memory) is on high alert and in the freeze, fight or flight response. Cortisol runs through our systems disrupting feel-good neurotransmitters which affect the way we feel, behave and think. If we suffer from imposter syndrome, we can’t arrange our thoughts. 

The prefrontal cortex and hippocampus are very active in a mentoring situation. A mentoring and positive affirmative environment can increase the release of those feel-good neurotransmitters which helps with feelings of motivation and optimism for the future and optimises clear thinking within high-pressure environments.

2. Helping targets to be met

The most efficient workers are often those who are aware of both their personal goals and the broader vision of the business, as well as their weaknesses, but they are also most likely to be the best supported. Mentorship facilitates establishing goals for individual employees to work towards and the meeting of targets.

3. Promoting integrity

Mentoring is an effective vessel for more established employees to practise the shared values at the core of their organisation. If mentees are regularly reminded of the company’s values and purpose, behaviour and action are more likely to be in alignment, which strengthens the integrity of the team and the wider business too.

4. Supporting hybrid workers

Hybrid working is not going away, which is a strong reason to have mentors in place to maintain job satisfaction and performance and stop the loss of talent.

5. Creating networks

Arranging mentors for new starters reduces the time taken to build up a bank of reliable and supporting connections, even more so since the rise in hybrid and remote working. Mentors are able to share contacts and make introductions and affirm the capability of a newcomer, whilst simultaneously providing the support system of a mutually trusting professional relationship.

Mentors can put mentees into a different mental state by positively reinforcing and encouraging a mentee’s goals and vision

6. Providing a sounding board

By acting as their ‘spare brain’, mentors can act as a sounding board by jointly walking through potential situations and risks. This may help prevent important mistakes, but also heightens awareness of responses and how it may impact others. In some situations, mentees may come to the table not knowing what they need and mentors need to peel back layers to gain a clearer view.

7. Helping business leaders to open up

I regularly meet with senior people who are not able to share information internally and are not able to show their feelings. Sharing experiences and knowledge and going on a journey together with them helps to spark ideas, creativity and good energy.

Sharing a space and going through what could happen, what the consequences would be and how to change things, what the risks are and looking at our predicted behaviour to see if we automatically are going to respond in a certain way, leads to better leadership and the improved health of our leaders. 

8. Creating psychological safety

Constructing a safe space to present and discuss questions with other, more experienced individuals means a mentor can provide the scaffolding to guide and help their mentee develop problem-solving skills, as well as resilience and perseverance. 

9. Reducing conflict

Taking time to get a full account of any conflicts, understand the setting and the feelings behind it, and checking more deeply if there are other things at play, such as stress or burnout, may mean potential problems are nipped in the bud earlier on. 

10. Facilitating diverse interactions

Mentorship is an effective and natural way to further good inclusion and diversity practices. Often, mentoring is not established on natural friendship pairings. Instead, it can be a wonderful opportunity for employees of all ages, fields, experience levels and social backgrounds to interact, exchange knowledge, share experiences, problem solve and grow alongside one another, benefiting both the mentee and mentor.

11. Encouraging a healthy mindset

Mentors can put mentees into a different mental state by positively reinforcing and encouraging a mentee’s goals and vision. This may remind them of the good things in life and how to notice these things more. Through collaborative discussions, mentors are able to equip mentees with more confidence, which is particularly important if a mentee is struggling with imposter syndrome. 

12. Improving emotional intelligence

Emotionally intelligent mentors pay attention to body language, are open-minded and know the right questions to ask at the right time, while simultaneously managing their own emotions and behaviours. This encourages sensitive, productive interpersonal communication and, in turn, effective business initiatives. 

Interested in this topic? Read Who's mentoring your mentors?

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Lynda Shaw


Read more from Lynda Shaw

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