Mentoring opens doors

A mentor is someone who allows you to see the light inside yourself.
-Oprah Winfrey


Many successful business people put their success down to mentoring. South African mining magnate Patrice Motsepe, Africa’s first millionaire, and founder and executive chairman of African Rainbow Minerals, credits the role of mentorship in his success. According to his Forbes profile, in 2013 Patrice was also the first African to sign Bill Gates’ and Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge, in which he promised to give at least half his fortune to charity. Richard Branson is still said to have mentors, despite his incredible achievements. He says you find mentors all the time, inside the business and out, and that everyone needs a little help along the way.

Mentoring relationships have many benefits, including:
•Assisting you to raise awareness of and to develop your fuller potential
•Creating a vision and a plan for the future
•Opening access to networks and opportunities that enhance career progression
•Building your capability, and the contribution you make in your role and within your team, unit and organization
•The sharing of essential knowledge, know-how and skills gained over years.

Mentoring is an on-going relationship, usually contracted for a specific period of time, where a mentor provides advice, guidance and support to a mentee. Mentoring relationships are structured, caring and supportive and should focus on the needs of the mentee and their personal and professional development. But it is not only the mentee who benefits. Mentors almost always report that they grow and learn through the process themselves.


Finding a mentor – 5 tips

1. What are you looking for?

Before you start looking for a mentor, decide what you need most. Is an industry expert important, someone with specific advice to offer from the HR Profession, and are they a generalist, or a specialist? Or is it a broader focus you want, someone who embodies the kinds of leadership or management skills you feel you need most? Different mentors may fulfill different roles. What do you need right now?

2. Get creative about finding your mentor

Ask around. Does your company offer a mentoring programme, or your professional body? Attend industry events and network with people who inspire you. Connect with them using platforms like LinkedIn. Ask former colleagues or bosses. Think creatively.

3. Communicate what you can offer.

Some will call this ‘selling yourself’. Tell your potential mentor why you have chosen them, and what you think you could achieve together.

4. Agree expectations and commit to them

Questions that are useful in this regard, courtesy of SME South Africa, include:

– How much time can you commit to mentoring me?

– How would you like us to communicate (email, face-to-face, telephone)?

– What are your expectations of me in this relationship?

– Who else would you recommend I connect with?

5. Consider giving back – become a mentor yourself.

As Phil Collins notes: “In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.”


The IPM offers a mentoring programme. Would you like to find out more? Visit our website here:


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