Mentorship

Holly Cannon
Today, many firms are realizing that an effective workplace mentoring program can have a positive impact on the attraction, development and retention of top talent.

These programs are particularly important when it comes to demographic groups that are under-represented; for example, among women who work in the construction industry.

I had the opportunity to a moderate a panel discussion at the 5th annual Groundbreaking Women in Construction event, "Personal Career Strategies to Advance Your Professional Path." Sponsored by McGraw Hill and the Engineering News Record, the conference included women from all levels of the industry and touched on career development strategies and key insights from women who have advanced through the ranks. The conference also examined methods for overcoming workplace stereotypes, and ways to increase our networks while identifying and managing opportunities for professional growth.

The panel discussion I led was entitled, Mapping Out Mentorship: Identifying the Right Mentor and Creating a Support Network, and included five women in leadership roles in the construction industry. The panelists shared their experience answering questions on a wide variety of mentoring topics, including: identifying the right mentor; formalizing the mentor relationship; how to take full advantage of mentor opportunities; and how mentoring can help attract, promote and retain women in the construction industry.

Mentorships shorten the learning curve and provide knowledge transfer opportunities to mentees...

A common theme throughout the panel discussion was the ways that mentorship programs benefit not only the mentor and mentee, but also the company. Mentorships shorten the learning curve and provide knowledge transfer opportunities to mentees, provide employees with a sounding board for ideas and encourage employees to take calculated risks, resulting in career advancement, while also providing opportunities to identify and develop high potential employees. This relationship increases the self-awareness of both participants and strengthens the relationship and commitment to the business, as well as demonstrating to the mentee that the organization is invested in her success and development, which increases staff engagement and reduces turnover.

Through the mentor/mentee relationship, both parties are introduced to new colleagues and peers that they may not have met otherwise. The mentor is able to learn through teaching while sharing her experience. The relationship doesn’t need to be a formal one, nor does the mentee need to request mentorship. Those who are new to an industry or organization should seek out the advice of as many successful, senior-level staff as possible. You can never have enough mentors.

Through the mentor/mentee relationship, both parties are introduced to new colleagues and peers that they may not have met otherwise.

I’ve seen the benefits of an effective and engaging mentor relationship firsthand and from both "sides of the aisle." Early in my career, a mentor encouraged me to apply for a position in human resources (HR). My mentor’s advice and support helped me launch a very successful career in HR. A few years later, I was given the opportunity to give two employees similar opportunities; I had the privilege of mentoring them over the course of a year. I am proud to say they both excelled, and are now working as successful HR directors in different companies. I made the conscious decision to participate in and contribute to their careers, and it benefited our organization and provided me with a wonderful opportunity to get to know them. We still keep in touch, and they are some of the first people I call to trade ideas.

Faithful+Gould encourages staff to participate in its own mentorship program, recognizing the benefits to the employees and the business. We do this with the knowledge that our people are our most important asset, and we therefore have a stake in their continued development. A good mentor/mentee relationship has the potential to benefit all involved.