Few of us take on a new job without some measure of self-doubt. Yes, a promotion or a career-enhancing move to a new office or company may well mean more money, greater responsibility and exciting new challenges. On the other hand, it may involve you stepping into a situation that requires skills and personal qualities that you have yet to develop.
In these situations, a mentor can be a great help. Mentors – whether appointed internally or sourced from third party providers – are typically people who have experience of just the sort of challenge you now face. Their help and advice can prove invaluable as you adapt to your new position. Here are some of the potential benefits that can come from working with a mentor:
1. Somebody to hear your ideas
A mentor will act as a sounding board as you address new challenges. Ideally, your mentor should not be part of your immediate management line, leaving you free to discuss problems that you might not wish to discuss with managers or colleagues.
2. Help in assessing your skills and personal qualities
A mentor will help you assess the skills and personal qualities your new job requires, while identifying your strengths and any weaknesses that may need addressing. For instance, if you are in charge of a large team for the first time then you will have a lot to learn about people management. Some aspects of team management – such as resolving conflicts between colleagues or taking disciplinary action – may not lend themselves to your personality. A mentor can then help you develop the strategies you need to deal with these situations.
3. Drawing on his or her experience
A mentor can provide guidance on specific skill sets that you have not previously encountered. For example, putting together a business case for an important new project or pitching to a client.
4. Guidance through new challenges
A mentor can act as a pilot, helping you navigate unfamiliar waters in which you might otherwise run aground without guidance. A good mentor will help you understand and adapt to the specific culture of your new organization. Such guidance can be particularly important should you move to a new region or country.
5. Help in reducing your stress levels
By reducing the stress that many experience as part of moving between jobs, mentoring programs not only improve the success rates of new appointments but also boost confidence and morale. This can in turn reduce the churn rate of staff.
If you are embarking on a new career and feel you would benefit from having a mentor, you should register your interest with the HR manager/director and ask if the company runs any particular schemes or programs.
Mentoring at KPMG
Over 10,000 mentoring relationships exist today at KPMG’s US member firm. This goes some way to achieving the goal of KPMG’s ‘Great Place to Build a Career’ initiative, which aims to position our member firms as ‘Employers of Choice’. In the US this initiative includes unconscious bias training for recruiters and a targeted mentoring program for people of color. As well as career path transparancy and person-to-person career guidance, the initiative supports a formal mentoring program that consists of 6,000 mentors and almost 10,000 mentees.
KPMG’s mentoring relationships aim to help people fulfill their career aspirations, whether the mentee is a new Associate learning the ropes or a seasoned Senior Manager looking to take the next step on the career ladder. Recalling when her Senior Manager left in the middle of her first busy season, Audit Associate Erin Smith recalls how the support she received from her mentor Robert Fraher made her much more confident in her skills. “Robert ensures that you are not just going through the motions. When you ask him a question he goes into great detail to ensure that you fully grasp the concept at hand.”
In addition to providing skilful guidance, mentors can also help mentees achieve a successful work/life balance. Of his former mentor Tracie Johnson, Senior Associate and former intern Richard Fought says, “She’s a hard worker and expects a lot from her teams, but she is always willing to work around your personal schedule to ensure you are happy with your career at KPMG.”
KPMG is justly proud of our mentoring culture, which has grown from around 500 relationships when the formal mentoring program was first launched in 2004, and which now involves almost 13,000 KPMG employees and Partners.