Mentorship Doesn't Need To Be An 'Inside' Job

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Mentorship is a valuable tool for any professional, whether at the start of their career, or at the pinnacle of their success. Gaining new perspectives, considering new approaches and enjoying the support and confidentiality of a mentor can fast track career paths and transform lives.

Increasingly, organizations around the world are recognizing the many benefits of developing talent-mentoring programs– currently 71% of Fortune 500 companies offer mentoring to their employees. Interestingly, the majority of these companies harness the value of internal employee resources to develop others, rather than approaching mentors outside of the organization.

While there are undoubted benefits to receiving mentoring from within an organization (understanding the company culture, knowledge of the particular skills and expertise required for the job, and navigating the internal politics), there are also limitations. 

At Reach Mentoring, we believe there is much to be gained from a mentor that might have specific knowledge and expertise in a completely different sector or industry. A perspective on situations, without the benefit of ‘insider knowledge,” coupled with confidentiality and mutual trust between mentor and mentee can add inordinate value. 

We have witnessed first-hand how finding a “match” outside a person’s comfort zone can be highly beneficial and can open doors to a host of new possibilities with fresh ideas and knowledge. What is important is that mentees work with someone who has experienced similar situations in their career, who can empathize but also offer suggestions or recommendations on dealing with challenges and who can help set specific and tangible objectives.

Business advice gleaned from different experiences and industry backgrounds can be highly insightful, broadening a mentee’s vision and understanding.  At Reach Mentoring, we use a customized platform to match mentors and mentees, determining their compatibility according to various criteria, including communication styles, development objectives and personality traits. We have matched engineers with lawyers, government executives with communications directors, and CSR strategists with HR partners of global management consultancy firms. 

The Reach Mentoring process relies on collaboration between mentor and mentee to achieve mutually defined goals that will develop the mentee’s skills, abilities, knowledge or thinking. Our mentors have a genuine interest in helping others develop both personally and professionally, and all have one key objective in mind:  to support the next generation of successful female leaders from and for the Middle East.

Trust is a critical factor highlighted at Reach to ensure a healthy and successful mentorship relationship, and while it is certainly possible to enjoy this element of confidentiality in in-house mentoring, there can be additional comfort in being mentored by someone outside of one’s organization.

The benefits of mentoring –for both mentors and mentees– is invaluable. There are lessons to be learned for both parties, and these do not necessarily need to pertain to the specific industry or field in which the mentees or mentors work. In fact, some of the most exciting and unexpected breakthroughs may come –if not from left field as the saying goes– then from another field altogether!  

Related: Promoting Cultures Of Change Through Mentorship