Mentoring can open doors to new opportunities, meaningful growth and career success, especially for women who have historically struggled to break through the glass ceiling. In fact, 67% of women rate mentorship as highly important in career advancement, yet 63% report that they’ve never had a mentor.¹ Another recent study found 74% of women in junior or mid-manager level positions aspire to reach senior or executive leadership ranks within their organization, but nearly half of the women surveyed find it challenging to reach these positions or receive promotions.² Those women aren’t wrong: in the U.S., women earn almost 60% of undergraduate degrees, but make up only 14.6% of executive officers.³
To bridge this significant gap, mentoring is key. With the right mentor, women don’t just advance their skillsets—they make significant connections by networking, gaining advice that wouldn’t otherwise be available to them and enhancing their confidence.
Finding the Right Mentor
To have a mentor, there is no age limit or requirement necessary. Mentoring can help at any stage of a career, promoting ongoing education and professional advancement. Whether you’re eyeing a promotion, feeling underutilized or wanting to learn a new skill, mentoring can be a meaningful step in the right direction. Finding a perfect mentor can take time. To increase your chances of finding a mentor with the skills you seek, join a formal mentoring program. Once you’re ready to find a mentor, look for the following qualities:
- Experience. Seek out a mentor that has at least three years of experience in the industry and your industry segment. The best mentor may not have the exact position you hope to have someday, but they should have some experience in your field to understand your goals.
- Diverse skillsets. Whether you hope to gain skills in networking or time management, you should look for a mentor who can provide the advice and guidance necessary to improve your desired skillset while also teaching you the skills you may have not realized you needed.
- Time. Before starting a mentorship with someone, make sure you both have enough time in your schedules to meet at least once or twice a month. Determine if phone, email or in-person communication works best for the two of you and narrow down specific dates and times to meet regularly.
As a mentee, it’s important to respect a mentor’s time and advice. To ensure you find the right match and avoid any issues down the road, be clear, honest and realistic about any difficulties you want to overcome and any goals you hope to achieve.
When mid- and senior-level employees choose to mentor lower-level employees, they can lift up people who may not otherwise have those opportunities and level the playing field.
Are You Mentor Material?
Mentoring someone is a great way to give back to the industry and ensure the next generation has the proper training, skills and opportunities to succeed. Mentoring women, in particular, can help achieve gender equality and better representation in the workplace. When mid- and senior-level employees choose to mentor lower-level employees, they can lift up people who may not otherwise have those opportunities and level the playing field. Before becoming a mentor, ask yourself the following questions:
- What can I offer? Even with a few years of experience, you can offer lessons, guidance and pieces of advice you’ve learned along the way. Whether your strengths are in finance, marketing, networking, communication or even work/life balance, narrow down the top three areas you feel comfortable and confident in teaching.
- What is my mentoring style? It’s important to know if you prefer to mentor someone face-to-face or over email before starting a mentorship. It’s also critical to determine whether you want to assign your mentee specific tasks and deadlines or rather share your experiences and stories as a method of mentoring. Each mentorship is unique, so take the time to learn about yourself and your mentee before getting started.
- Who should I mentor? In the same way that a mentee wants to find the perfect mentor, a mentor needs to find the right mentee. Look for someone who you see potential in and has similar interests and ambitions. However, don’t be afraid to take a leap and mentor someone who has a different background and skillset—it could be a perfect match!
As a mentor, it’s important to establish realistic expectations and ground rules, including what you expect from your mentee and what they should expect from you. Always take the time to listen, ask questions and advise based on the mentee’s needs. Remember, it’s not your job to do their work, but rather to guide them in the right direction with your wisdom and experience.
With the right mentor, women don’t just advance their skillsets—they make significant connections by networking, gaining advice that wouldn’t otherwise be available to them and enhancing their confidence.
With nearly 15 years of experience in the JanSan industry, I’ve been fortunate to have great mentors who have provided me with experienced, mature views of business solutions and offered different ways to evaluate the strategic direction of my company. I’ve also had opportunities to give back by mentoring others. And in an industry where the annual turnover rate is 300%, mentoring is critical to not only advancing but retaining talented employees as well.
Furthermore, through their mentorship, mentees have the opportunity to grow their network within the industry, establish confidence when dealing with difficulties, gain hands-on experience and helpful feedback from professionals and, above all, achieve their full potential. Being a mentor also has its benefits—from advancing your leadership skills to driving change to gaining a better understanding of the challenges of other professionals within the cleaning industry.
So, what are you waiting for? Ask your organization if it has a mentoring program, or sign up for free to become a mentor, mentee or both with the ISSA Hygieia Network’s mentoring program
By Kim Price, Council Member, ISSA Hygieia Network and Vice President, Sales Force Effectiveness, Georgia-Pacific Professional
- Modern Mentoring: Emboldening Women in the Workplace. (n.d.). Retrieved June 11, 2019, from https://chronus.com/mentoring-women-in-theworkplace
- 5 Stats About Women in the Workforce That You Need to Know. (n.d.). Retrieved June 11, 2019, from https://business.linkedin.com/talentsolutions/blog/trends-and-research/2017/5-stats-about-women-in-the-workforce-that-you-need-to-know
- Napolitano, J. (2018, September 05). Women Earn More College Degrees and Men Still Earn More Money. Retrieved June 11, 2019, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/janetnapolitano/2018/09/04/women-earn-more-college-degrees-and-men-still-earn-more-money/