The benefits of mentoring for career-related outcomes are widely accepted. At Art of Mentoring, we know that mentees and mentors get much more from the relationship than they expect and that mentoring has positive impacts on wellbeing.
Whilst there are many descriptions on what wellbeing encompasses, in the most general sense wellbeing is focused on holistic life experience: Are you content, balanced, and positive? Do you find your life to be satisfying and rewarding? Are you thriving or do you feel like you are just surviving?
Expanding the concept of wellbeing, the National Wellness Institute promotes Six Dimensions of Wellness: emotional, occupational, physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual. Let’s consider the first two.
Mentoring is widely acknowledged to have a psychosocial aspect. Mentors provide emotional support, and help to normalise workplace struggles and concerns. The Wellbeing Lab 2020 Workplace Report found that that workers experience greater wellbeing and better performance when they feel psychologically safe to bring up problems and talk honestly about mistakes with each other. A trusting mentoring relationship can play an obvious role here, and this finding is widely supported in various studies.
The occupational dimension of wellness recognises getting personal fulfilment from your job or academic pursuits, and contributing to knowledge and skills, while maintaining a work-life balance, all of which are reported to be enriched through mentoring relationships.
What mentees need, what mentors offer and the benefits derived by both
Art of Mentoring’s 2020 research project was a benchmarking exercise across our mentoring platform to reveal what mentees want, what mentors think they can and want to offer and what both parties actually get from their mentoring relationship.
We found that mentees came into mentoring looking for career advancement, expanded networks and skills development. Yet, the biggest program impacts on mentees were on personal learning and growth, self-awareness and confidence, more meaning and purpose. Wellbeing was ranked 10th of 18 options.
It’s also a very developmental experience for mentors – they benefit from much more learning and growth than they would have expected. We found that mentors reported positive impacts on personal learning & growth, self-awareness, and meaning and purpose. Wellbeing was ranked 4th. Positive psychology research suggests that people feel good about helping others, because such prosocial action leads to higher self-esteem (Snyder & Lopez, 2007).
Adaptation mentoring – the role of mentoring on wellbeing during a pandemic
Mentoring is a well-documented practice for supporting people through a transition, typically from study to work or from one career to another.
The COVID-19 crisis required more than just a transition response. The pandemic threw the world’s population into a sudden change on many levels – job loss, social distancing, working from home, forced isolation indoors, with overwhelming media coming at us. We needed to adapt, very quickly, to a very different reality. We believed that having a safe place in which to reflect and untangle thoughts and feelings, as well as plan for the adaptation, would be critical to how well and how quickly societies would adapt. We put forward the idea that mentors could supplement, not replace, mental health experts whose services would likely be overwhelmed in times of crisis. Feedback by the end of 2020 from mentoring program participants suggested that we were correct. Mentors were able to emotionally support their mentees during a very difficult period, and in fact, in many mentoring pairs, roles were reversed when mentors found themselves struggling even more than their mentees.
Art of Mentoring’s Melissa Richardson talked about Adaptation, Mentoring and Wellbeing with workplace wellbeing advisor, Thea O’Connor in the Adaption Mentoring podcast.
Donella Roberts, 2021
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