The Effects of Multiple Mentors on Professional Development
Having multiple mentors increases your network, exposure to diverse perspectives, and more balanced feedback. Many people treat mentorships like monogamous relationships, but they may be missing out on the benefits of multiple mentors. If one mentor can enhance a person’s professional development and speed up their career path significantly, imagine what multiple mentorship relationships can do.
Mentors can help be like an advisory board for your personal development. Mentors are people we can go to for advice on obstacles that can’t be discussed with direct supervisors or bosses. According to an article by Inc. the smartest entrepreneurs have multiple mentors they go to for counsel for each area of expertise they need to run their company, including work-life balance. One mentor may be able to help mentees with improving vital workplace skills, while another has had experience juggling a demanding career and a family. If someone wants to leave their current job or field, the more mentors they have, the larger their network for job searching and references. A 2016 study shows that 2 in 3 millennials were expecting to leave their jobs by 2020, and workplace loyalty certainly isn’t increasing in current times. It can be very helpful to have several mentors who can advise on which companies to look at or another field that might be more in line with personal values.
Different mentors bring different experiences to the table. The more variety of perspectives we are exposed to, the faster we learn. No two people experience life the same way. In fact, gender, socioeconomic background, and race are some factors which could lead to someone seeing the workplace or industry differently than another. Exposure to different genders can make a big difference in a mentee’s career development. It’s very important for women to have male mentors since most senior level positions in the workplace are still held by men. However, there is an interesting twist where research shows that women, men, and society are benefitted when women mentor men. Moreover, not everyone learns the same way. An individual who is more left brained, may realize they benefit from a mentor that can explain things in a methodical and analytical way. The same individual might find another mentor who thinks in a creative and artistic way to challenge them in a wonderful way.
Having several mentors results in more balanced feedback on performance or goal management. Mentors will contradict one another sometimes, and that’s part of the process. Everyone has a different opinion, but with several mentors, the mentee has the ability to try on different processes and see what works best for them with each given situation. Seeing if a majority of your mentorship relationships see your path going a certain way or have similar feedback on a certain skill can be very valuable. Instead of focusing on a single individual’s feedback, having several mentorship relationships is bound to give an individual a more truthful and accurate representation of where they are in their development and what steps are needed to move forward.
Reaching out to multiple mentors can also be a great idea in the beginning of a person’s career. Many ideal candidates for a mentoring relationship might be too busy, and some mentor candidates might seem ideal but may not ultimately be the person you want to work with. Afterall, what’s the worst that can happen with a bigger network of mentors? You can expand your own personal council, gain diverse knowledge, and a more balanced perspective on your personal and professional development.