About a year ago, I blogged about the formal mentoring program sponsored through the Detroit ATD Chapter that I had joined as a mentor. My mentee was a young woman with a music background, a background I also have, who was working as an instructional designer/developer for a Michigan-based manufacturing company. The formal Detroit ATD mentor program ended last August, but my mentee and I have continued meeting. In fact, I would say we have become friends. We try to get together at least once a month, if not more often. So, the mentoring relationship has transitioned from formal to a more informal structure.
In the course of this year, I have seen such growth in my mentee. While still at the manufacturing company, she figured out how to navigate the company's politics to bring her to the attention of the organization's top officers as a valuable, knowledgeable resource. Then, she launched a successful job hunt and moved to a better position where she quickly became the right-hand woman to the department head, who is also mentoring her. She continues looking to the future and planning ahead. Her self-confidence has increased with all of this, which was a key goal of mine for her.
Now that the formal program is over, is it time to stop mentoring and move on? I don't think so. As long as she wants my support, I'll be there. I feel much like another mentor, who was quoted in the June 2015 issue of Chief Learning Officer magazine in the article, "Ladies, You Need a Mentor", about mentoring women:
“I have found that mentoring brings even greater rewards than being mentored. It's a fantastic opportunity to look at situations from somebody else's point of view, to challenge their thinking, and to give someone the nudge to help them grab new opportunities. It also tests me as I start by wondering what on earth I can possibly offer them, and always results in me feeling proud of them and valued for my help.”
Throughout my work life, I have been informally mentored and have informally mentored others. Mentoring truly does make a difference for professional development. I am encouraged to see more and more formal mentoring initiatives, especially for women, being implemented at companies around the country.
Does your company have a mentor program? I'd love to hear about it if they do.