A lot has been said about the benefits of mentorship. Traditionally, we talk about the older, wiser mentor handing down hard-earned career lessons to a fresh-faced, eager mentee.
Certainly, this kind of mentor/mentee relationship is valuable. But there’s an equally valuable mentorship that is rarely discussed, and that is of the peer-to-peer variety.
In a peer mentorship relationship, there is no hierarchy. Both parties play the mentor and both parties play the mentee. It’s equal footing. That doesn’t mean that one party won’t be a little older or younger, a little more experienced or less experienced, or any other combination of factors. But, in terms of career progression, the people involved are at a (relatively) similar point.
The benefits of such a relationship are plenty, especially for those in more senior roles who feel that traditional mentorships are unnecessary at this point. If you’ve never considered a peer mentorship, check out some of the ways it can help support you and your career.
Peers can share their experiences in the workplace and learn from one another. All too often, we come to believe that our circumstances are unique—no one will understand what we’re dealing with. But that’s just not the case. Peers can relate to one another in a deeper way since they’re often going through similar situations.
The thing that separates the mentorship relationship from a more casual one is that, as mutual mentors and mentees, the duo stays focused on learning and growth. They aren’t just there for friendly chit-chat; it’s a purposeful activity that allows both people to gain new insight and new perspectives.
Also read: 4 Ways Being a Mentor Will Boost Your Career
Together, peers can help solve one another’s problems. When challenges arise, they can combine their knowledge and experience to come to better solutions than either would come to on their own.
Often it can feel more comfortable to share your struggles with someone who is right there with you, rather than disclosing them to someone who appears to be miles ahead in their career or someone who is more focused on retirement. As peers, you can easily put yourself in the shoes of the other and help explore possibilities in a safe space.
Vent (in a Healthy Way)
A final benefit of peer mentorship is the opportunity to simply discuss day-to-day frustrations of the workplace. Talking with another person who understands is a useful way to release tension and stress, thus avoiding an emotional blow up in the future.
Healthy venting leads to a sense of comradery and a feeling that you’re not alone. It eases negativity and allows you to let off steam in a harmless way.
Of course, it’s important to remember that venting does have a point of diminishing returns. If left unchecked, it can quickly devolve into whining and complaining, and ultimately it can increase your levels of frustration.
In a mentorship relationship, both parties should stay vigilant about this. They allow the other to speak freely and express whatever needs to be released, but quickly shift into solution-finding. This helps keep the partnership positive and on track.
It’s always inspiring to hear stories of high-level professionals who talk about rising through the ranks together. Beneath that phrase, there’s often a peer-to-peer mentorship. They’ve supported one another along the way and used their combined experiences to grow as individuals. One day, you and a current peer may be saying the same thing and inspiring others.