By Rob Starr, Big4.com Content Manager
Dr. Paul Schempp directs a research laboratory at the University of Georgia and one of the primary study areas there that deals with experts and expertise. While there are many drivers shaping tomorrow’s business leaders, one of the keys Professor Schempp’s work has uncovered is having a good mentor. He recently spoke with Big4.com about what protégés looking for careers in accounting/auditing need to have on their shopping lists to find the kind of career navigator to help them build their own path to success.
“The larger organizations know that mentoring is the most effective way of socializing someone into an organization,” he says. “ You can’t convey the values and the beliefs and the practices any more effectively than having somebody in a mentoring relationship.”
He goes on to say protégés value two different aspects especially.
“From research and personal experience, I can say the people who enter these relationships really value the career planning. They get to understand their options as they move forward as an accountant or consultant.”
According to Schempp, psychosocial support is just as important as the input on their careers.
He points to the fact those looking for mentors are often new members placed into the organizational culture for the first time and this strange environment comes with a degree of uncertainty. A mentor can help by adding affirmation and acceptance to the career guidance they are already suppling. He explains:
“A mentor is good at both letting someone know what the landmarks are to measure their progress and at the same time they can supply the emotional support needed…sometimes with just a pat on the back or sometimes saying , ‘Wait, this is the wrong way to go.’”
Those under the tutelage of a mentor also learn faster, are able to grasp the essential skills needed to further their working lives quickly and the practices embedded in the organization where they are making a new start.
“For example, in a place like Deloitte I’m sure there are some things that are absolutely essential and others that can be put on the back burner. A mentor can cue you as to what you need to be doing and what you can let slide.” This is the kind of insider information that’s not necessarily in an orientation or that protégés might not know on their own.
Research has also shown that mentors are great for facilitating professional networking and a perfect conduit for learning who the influential people are in any organization. Schempp saves one of the most surprising and motivating advantages for last.
“I read in two different studies that people who are in mentoring relationships tend to be more positive and they have healthier attitudes, not only about their profession but about life. They have fewer sick days and feel more motivated in their professions and achieve greater career outcomes.”