Many candidates and employers believe in how mentorship is important and how it will change your life. Therefore, companies create mentor programs as an attraction tool to woo those hoping for more guidance and support in the careers.
The sad truth is while maybe a small portion of people can benefit somewhat from some form of formal mentorship, the majority of successful professionals used a variety of other methods to reach career success.
Here are a few reasons why mentorship programs don’t really work:
#1. Many mentorship programs are unnatural and forced. Formal mentorship programs create inorganic and responsibility-based relationships between mentor and mentee. They try to simulate real relationships, but skip the relationship-building part, which is the MOST crucial part of the exchange.
The best mentor relationships are unsaid; you and a senior professional get along great, thus becoming buddies who naturally you feel comfortable sharing career issues with. However, that’s rarely the case with formal mentor relationships.
#2. Ironically, lack of trust ensues. Since these programs are force-feeding mentorship down your throat and theirs, the relationship is strained to be PC, adhering to company policy, and suspicious.
When you’re paired up with a senior person whom you have no existing relationship with, how can you spill the beans about what you’re truly going through? You wouldn’t! Who knows what other people will hear about this after your mentor call…
#3. You’re not taught to fish. Candidates who need career support suffer from 2 things: lack of personal will to learn and lack of action to do something about it in advance. The people who clamor for “mentorship” the most are 2 kinds of people: political game-players who want to curry more favor with senior leadership and low-performing professionals. To no one’s surprise, the latter are the same people who want a quick fix to their career problems.
Instead of teaching lackluster professionals how to go above their comfort zone to fish on their own, these mentor programs promise to get them someone who cares about them and will help them, at no cost. Sounds too good to be true? Of course it is!
For the high-performers who just want to suck up with more senior people, mentorship programs are a waste of mentors’ time. You, as a mentor, now feel suspicious of your mentee! What do they want this time? Their job is going well, what do they need me for? What are they going to use me for now? I better distance myself.
And those types of thoughts go on. What eludes both parties for both top and low-performing staff are true relationships making a tangible impact on your career.
At most firms, you’ll be forced to take initiative in these pointless, surface-level, and inorganic charades, masquerading as true relationships. For the companies who think this is good enough to simulate caring about your employees: realize that people understand how phony this is. Instead, step up your management game. Make sure your culture is one of openness, support, and sincerity between your managers and employees.
For the candidates who want rely on mentorship programs to “develop”: you’ll quickly realize this is a sham. To expect your personal success to rest on someone else’s shoulders is folly. You’re doomed to fail if you place too much hope on someone other than yourself. Instead, invest in your relationship-building skills, read more self-development books, and get out there yourself to find mentors who work in your office and out.
Don’t forget, some of the best mentors you have in life and career are not going to be found at work. They could be your family members, family friends, influencers, famous people who you’ve read about past news clippings, and historical figures who champion values and self-discipline you admire. You don’t need to be interacting with your mentor to succeed; you can learn from their examples and do what they did without having to bother them every minute.
Understand that mentors’ time and effort are extremely valuable. Furthermore, you’re not entitled to having a mentor in the first place! You need to work towards a relationship. A simple email doesn’t do anything! What are you bringing to the table to warrant their support? It’s a two way street. What can you offer to a mentor, especially a stranger, if you want their help?