Mentoring can take shape in many different ways — from informal career chats and advice to internal programs at your company or global mentoring programs such as Femme Palette. No matter the format, being a mentor has many benefits including further developing your active listening, leadership, and feedback skills, just to name a few. However, sharing experience across companies, countries, and cultures provides even more value to both the mentor and mentee.
Here are just a few of the rich benefits of multicultural mentoring:
Get an inside look
Mentoring someone from another company, country or culture is a unique way to get a peek into how other businesses operate around the world. Learning more about how other businesses operate might inspire you to try something new in your own company. Not only is it interesting to see how other people approach similar situations or roles, but it’s also a valuable opportunity to expand your international business literacy.
Even if they’re slight, every company, country and culture has different business operating practices and etiquette. While a quick internet search can provide some basic tips for doing business around the world, much of this information is outdated, industry specific, and full of stereotypes. You’ll learn so much more by building a connection with someone who is working in a different environment than you (and avoid embarrassing faux pas).
By mentoring someone from a different culture or country, you’ll gain a deeper insight into how corporate culture, values, ettique, etc. vary around the world. This kind of learning boosts your professional skills but is also important for personal development, forming connections, and expanding your worldview.
Practice your language skills
When it comes to language skills, if you don’t use it, you lose it. If you can speak an additional language at a professional working proficiency, you’ve likely invested a lot of time in learning it. Working with a mentee in your non-native language is an excellent opportunity to keep your language skills fresh and strong. Multicultural mentoring is not only a great way to practice your language skills, but also an important way to use them to give back.
Learn new things
Through building trust and a strong relationship with your mentee, you can create a space of understanding and sharing where you both feel comfortable discussing cultural differences openly. From things like the observance of religious holidays to how deadlines are interpreted, there is so much to be learned from someone whose experience is different from your own. In pursuit of understanding, you may learn things you never knew you never knew.
This type of learning experience can be especially impactful if you work in a multicultural company. While you shouldn’t fall into the trap of generalizing and assuming everyone from a particular country or culture behaves the same or has the same needs, it can give you some background insight to help you be more considerate, problem solve more effectively, and find common ground with your international colleagues.