Written by Keke Khabele
Around 3000 years ago, one of Homer’s epic poems, Odyssey was released, which is widely cited as the origins of mentorship. The poem follows Greek hero Odysseus who entrusts the care of his son to his trusted companion Mentor, when he goes to fight the Trojan war. Over the decades he was away, Mentor nurtures and supports the boy.
For some, the origins of mentorship are attributed to the Middle Ages where young tradespeople who’ve acquired technical skills benefited from the tutelage of more experienced professionals. The 1970s saw more and more businesspeople start to recognize mentorship and the role it played in the development of young executives in organisations.
Whoever you attribute mentorship to, the consensus is that mentorship has played a pivotal role in the essential growth of individuals in their respective fields. A mentor/mentee relationship isn’t the easiest to come by, taking into consideration how well people need to fit as well as finding a clear and defined understanding of their journey from the very beginning. This defined understanding of outcomes must be established to ensure that expectations and goals are achieved.
Aspirant plumbing professionals, through apprenticeships and other avenues, have mentors. Whether direct or indirect, the relationship happens where learning takes place where a young professional will observe and learn from more seasoned professionals. This exchange of learning is not limited to one direction, a mentee also has plenty to offer in terms of teaching a mentor a thing or two.
This professional relationship is greatly beneficial to both individuals in how it always challenges those involved to think from differing point of views and learning to adapt to new approaches and consider new perspectives. According to a 2022 mentorship report, 90% of workers with mentor’s report being happy in their job, and employees who are involved in a mentoring program have a 50% higher retention rate than those who aren’t involved.
This puts greater emphasis on the importance of mentorship programs in workplaces throughout industries. Furthermore, it is imperative that individuals seek out mentors in their fields if not afforded opportunities with such programs because of what such a relationship can do for their careers. As Bill Walsh said, “Find a great mentor who believes in you; your life will change forever.”