Blog: Mentorship in the workplace benefits everyone


Those challenging themselves to advance their careers will need guidance from a mentor.

Last week, I was reminded why it’s nice to work for someone who favors leadership over dictatorship. There’s real value in working for a boss who sees employees’ shortcomings as an opportunity to teach rather than scold.

Constructive criticism is about making a business’s product better. Employees should want to help make their work, and in the turn, their employer’s product better.

Since starting at the Business Journal in April, I’ve had the privilege of meeting several young professionals in the area. It seems they’ve all stated how significant it is to have someone in the workplace you can look up to.

Local author Khadija Grant said, “If you find the right influences, you can succeed and overcome anything no matter the circumstances.”

Meanwhile, Kelley Heider, the vice president of innovation and social media at the public relations agency SSPR, spoke of how empowered she felt by the company’s two executives.

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“Both of them have really taught me to trust my instincts,” she said. “I’ve had the opportunity to become a leader and to manage and develop people, and I have found that I have this really great ability to help people grow and develop in their careers — to find their passions and hone their skills. … I really want being a leader and mentor to be at the center of what I do. I just think that leadership is so important, particularly female leadership given the current climate.”

When someone has a good mentor, they are more likely to become one too.

The relationship is not only rewarding for mentorees, but leaders too, said Kara Goldin, the founder and CEO of San Francisco–based Hint Water, which produces unsweetened flavored water.

In January, she wrote an online Forbes article titled, “Why It’s Important To Make Time To Mentor.”

Goldin highlighted four ways mentors benefit from helping guide someone, including how it gives “real insight into the next best thing.”

“As he made the transition from coder to CEO, Mark Zuckerberg spent time with Washington Post Company CEO, Don Graham, to see how leaders behave,” she wrote. “In return, Graham says the Facebook founder helped him better understand how to engage people online — valuable information for a newspaper business still adapting to the world of digital. Young entrepreneurs are often working with cutting edge technology or engaging with the latest trends. As a mentor, you can get first-hand insight into fresh and exciting innovations.”

My advice is if you don’t already have a mentor or mentoree within your workplace, seek one out. Both can help each other develop while working to better their company’s product — which normally means profits too.

Editor’s note: Want more on mentorship? Check out the Aug. 3 Business Journal for a discussion with young professional and commercial real estate agent Christine Maynard.