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0 In the Spirit: The Many Gifts of Mentoring

As the year draws to a close, it is a time of joy, reflection, and memory-making—setting the perfect scene to squeeze in some mentoring magic. The holiday season brings with it a unique focus on both gratitude and promise, providing a great opportunity for mentoring partners to look back on the work they have done together so far while also considering how they might deepen their work, strengthen their connection, and make even more progress together.


Set the stage for a successful partnership by embracing some of the many gifts of mentoring.


Time. We know—it’s a busy time of year! But it’s also a meaningful time of year when many of us are in a state of mind conducive to reflecting on the past year and thinking positively about the next. If you can find even one hour to connect, give the gift of your time! Take a break from the hustle and bustle to spend some quality time with your mentoring partner. Whether it's a virtual meeting or a coffee date, partnerships can use this time to reflect on the progress made throughout the year and set goals for the upcoming one.


Support for Navigating Challenges. For some people, this time of year is not all holiday cheer. In the same way that the season can amplify feelings of joy and hope, they can similarly magnify feelings of loneliness, grief, or fear.  Mentees may be facing difficult circumstances or navigating emotional challenges in their professional or personal lives. Mentors can make things a little brighter simply by showing up and being attentive, supportive, and understanding. They can provide a safe space for their mentee to share their challenges or concerns while being actively listened to and cared about. Often, the relief that comes from this type of support is less about having your problems solved than being able to share them with someone you trust to help you navigate them.


Reflection and Resolution. The end of the year really is the perfect time for mentors and mentees to share reflections on what they’ve accomplished and what they’ve learned together during the past year. Honest introspection and evaluation can help partnerships consider what tweaks they could make in the new year to foster even more success. And what better time to finetune goals than on the eve of a new year full of fresh possibility and opportunity. A conversation like this can provide a renewed sense of direction and purpose and reenergize the partnership.


Professional Development Opportunities. While you’re already thinking and looking ahead, dive into ideas for professional development opportunities. As mentoring pairs revisit mentoring goals and refine their plans for their partnership and beyond, it’s a great opportunity to think about ways mentees can enhance their skills and acquire new ones to prepare for future roles. They can identify targeted training, valuable resources, or collaborative projects that will help the mentee take actionable steps toward their professional objectives.


Networking Opportunities. Seasonal engagements like holiday gatherings or festive events can be a great opportunity to facilitate introductions with professional contact who can help mentees reach their goals, present or future. And even if mentors don’t necessarily have an event to invite their mentee to, they can still offer to help their mentee prepare for networking opportunities of their own, such as an office party. Reach out to share effective networking strategies and help them calm any nerves.


Gratitude. There is never a wrong time of year to give the gift of gratitude. That said, mentors and mentees alike can tap into the thankful spirit of the season and express their heartfelt thanks for their partner’s time and efforts and the growth and progress they have achieved together. This mutual appreciation does more than warm the heart—it strengthens the partnership and reinforces the dual commitment to ensuring it is impactful for both partners.


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