Over the last few years, I have often written and spoken about the benefits of having a mentor. The relationship really can bring lots of fantastic benefits for both the mentor and the person receiving their advice. I think I have the conversation quite a lot with Assistants because it is not something that you guys often think about, or on the whole, have as part of your career development. In today’s post I thought I would pull out some content from my other blogs on this subject and ask the question, why should an Assistant have a mentor? Here are the answers…

Benefits of having a mentor at work

I would highly recommend having a mentor at work and although you might not have thought about it before the benefits can be considerable. I have had quite a few mentors over the years and have found them all to be invaluable. They knew the business and the role inside out and offered such great advice. Here are some of the benefits I have encountered over the years:

  • I was learning from someone more experienced than me
  • I got an insider’s view on how to successfully get things done, especially as she had prior knowledge on how to best work with my manager
  • I gained a fresh perspective on my work frustrations and how to effectively deal with other members of staff
  • I received great advice on my career and the right choices to make in my job
  • I had someone in my office who was senior to me but was my ally and supported me through some rough patches
  •  My mentor helped me increase my networking opportunities by inviting me to various functions and events
  • I worked better and more efficiently with a clearer idea of how to increase my productivity

Why should an Assistant have a mentor?

As Assistants, it is often the case that we lose focus on our career development as we are going about doing the job itself, not to mention the often massive hurdle of getting our organisations to take our career progression seriously. A mentor can really help you develop both professionally and personally. So why should an Assistant have a mentor? Here are a few reasons:

  • A lot of Assistants that I know job hop because it is easier to start again, with a higher salary and benefits, rather than stick it out for promotions and recognition. Rather than leaving because we don’t feel there is anything more we can do in the role or we are not progressing, it is worth trying to speak to a mentor and getting some sound advice on what to do to improve our current job. I did and it really helped.
  • Remember you can ask a mentor for help to get you over a certain challenge or difficulty at work. Pick someone with experience or expertise in this area (want to negotiate a pay rise? Speak to someone on your sales team!)
  • As we know, Assistants often get through tons and tons of work but don’t often have time to reflect on our own progression. A mentor will help you take some time out of your schedule to reflect on what you want to achieve. A good mentor will ask you insightful questions and comment on your performance in areas that you might not have thought of before.
  • Our role is really tough and actually having someone there who is your cheerleading is great. Someone who can champion your contribution is so worthwhile for anyone in business, but especially for Assistants.

How to select a mentor?

Finally here are a few personality traits to look out for in a good mentor,

  •  A good knowledge of the business
  • Positive and enthusiastic about your role and the type of work you do
  • Decisive and focused on achieving goals
  • Successful but have also learnt from their mistakes

Once you have selected a potential mentor, ask them straight away – trust me they will be flattered! If they can’t dedicate the time don’t be disheartened, they might be able to put you in touch with someone else that they know who fulfils your criteria. If you are new to the Assistant role, you can also take a look at our eBook – Starting out as a new Assistant.

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