You know the old saying: “If you feed a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach him to fish, you’ll feed him for a lifetime.” While many people in our society need lunch, they also to learn to catch, clean, and cook the fish and become self-sustaining in the future. They may even need some ongoing lessons to make sure they learn to do it well.Teaching the skills and following up to make sure they absorbed them correctly is what mentoring is about.
If you have skills to share, whether they are life skills or professional skills, there is someone out there who can benefit from your experience. You can mentor a newbie in your field or even some kids your community and make a difference in their lives.
New hires may come to your company fresh out of school or from other jobs. They may have the book learning down pat, but aren’t quite sure how to use it. A mentor can offer suggestions to help them learn the ropes. If they don’t know how to fit into the company culture or into the 9-to-5 work world, a mentor can get them on track. As they start or move up in their careers, a mentor can offer advice and be a sounding board.
Recent census figures have confirmed that for every two Baby Boomers leaving the workforce only one young professional will fill their spot. Some statistics compiled by Misti Burmeister, and reported in the Great Leadership blog attest to the importance of mentoring:
- More than 60% of college and graduate students listed mentoring as a criterion for selecting an employer after graduation. (Source: MMHA)
- 76% of Fortune’s top 25 companies offer mentoring programs. (Source: Fortune)
- 96% of executives say mentoring is an important development tool. (Source: AccountTemps)
- 77% of companies report that mentoring programs were effective in increasing retention. (Source: The Center for Creative Leadership)
- 35% of employees who do not receive regular mentoring look for another job within 12 months. (Source: Emerging Workforce study by Spherion)
- 62% of employees who have received mentoring say they are very likely to stay with their current employer. (Source: Yellowbrick)
- 75% of executives point to mentoring as playing a key role in their careers. (Source: ASTD)
As a retiree, you will find many companies and colleges who seek mentors to offer career guidance. Even if you do not want to offer professional advice, you can still be a mentor on life skills. Rather than becoming the stereotypical old man who decries modern youth, you can offer caring and friendly guidance to young people in the community. Many kids raised in single parent homes, or who are are left to fend for themselves before they are ready, need a listening ear from someone who can offer the missing links in their upbringing to help them make the step to adulthood. They might even need something to teach them to fish – literally!
If you seek a mentoring opportunity, you can contact an organization like your Chamber of Commerce, local schools, or organizations such National Cares Mentoring Movement or NetMentors.org , which will find you a local mentoring opportunity.