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How can becoming a design mentor boost your career and business productivity?

9 February 2022
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mentoring quote

In a fast-paced industry, mentoring key members of your team, a colleague or designer outside your organisation might not seem as important as that looming design deadline or client meeting. It’s not always easy to focus on another designer’s personal development when trying to focus on your own career progression. But what if we told you the process of ‘mentoring’ was actually mutually-beneficial?


In fact, having a mentoring relationship has become increasingly regarded as being one of the most beneficial things you can do for your career and personal development and even business growth. A vast number of studies have shown that many unexpected benefits come with being a mentor. 


It can strengthen your craft, build up your leadership skills, reaffirm your experience in the field and bring value to your team and sector. You can make a significant difference to the development of your mentee in a relatively short time, retain or discover new talents for your team and take many unsuspected skills you can learn as a design mentor back into your own business. Not to mention that it can help you climb the career ladder in a direct (pay rise, promotion etc.) or indirect way.

  • Mentoring builds your leadership skills and adds value to the team 


Design business leadership skills take years to develop – and true leaders never stop developing them. Mentorship gives you an opportunity to identify and hone the leadership skills that will help develop and nurture other designers talents. Prioritising personal development, being a great communicator, encouraging strategic thinking, innovation, and action, providing guidance and support to develop key members of your team, are the trademarks of a great leader. Master this on a one-to-one basis and you will improve in a larger scale setting. Your contribution as a thought leader who can help teammates find the best way forward will also provide value to the team beyond daily design tasks. Any of the skills learned from the mentorship process can be brought back into your business.

  • Fight the impostor syndrome, re-affirm your experience in the field, push yourself to keep up to date on your design business, company or profession


Listening to your mentee, hearing their experiences and challenges and having to share your knowledge and expertise will reinforce your skills and experience in your field but also force you to keep up to date with the latest challenges and trends in your area, broaden your views and gain insights into other departments of your design business (what’s their workflow, perception of the business, daily challenges?).


  • Gain new perspectives, fresh ideas, and inspiration from another generation


In a fast-paced sector like Design, the workplace should be a place of innovation and changes.

Having a dialogue with a different generation of designers or at a different career stage is an effective way to think outside the box, gain new perspectives, fresh ideas, inspiration and put your finger on the pulse of the next generation of designers, upcoming challenges and key changes your design business might undergo to adapt to their needs.

  • It enhances your ability to communicate clearer design decisions and constructive feedback 

The ability to communicate clear big design decisions to all departments, employees (regardless of their seniority level), other businesses, product and technology partners is expected from design leaders and senior designers. A one-on-one mentoring is an opportunity to master the art of communicating with people you don’t have a natural connection with. The exercise of deconstructing complex design concepts, workflows and processes into clear actionable and digestible form to your mentee is good practice. Receiving and giving feedback is also part of the design process and the skill of providing clear, specific and productive feedback to your mentee will show your seniority level.

  • It gives you an opportunity to strengthen your craft, reflect on your own approach and find ways to refine it


A by-product of needing to share knowledge with your design mentee and helping them find solutions, is to embed lessons you have learned within your design career within yourself, but also an opportunity to interrogate  your own process, identify gaps and ways to improve it and find fresher solutions.


  • Shape future design leaders and contribute to the success of your industry 

Investing in design talent means investing in the industry itself and a way to raise the professional competitiveness bar. Your mentees today can be tomorrow’s future leaders and can evolve into highly successful colleagues with a valuable network you will want to collaborate with. Former mentees can even be tomorrow’s mentors and support you in your own design career.


  • Develop emotional intelligence skills

Working one-on-one with a design mentee requires you to sharpen your emotional skills such as demonstrating patience with those in need of guidance and support,  empathy, self-awareness, and cultural competency to communicate with a variety of people in or outside your organisation. These emotional skills can be  a key differentiator for career advancement and arising to a more senior or leadership position.



  • Personal satisfaction

Assisting another designer’s personal development can help a mentor to recognise their own individual worth and bring a sense of reward as you leave your mark on the industry’s legacy. Studies have also shown that mentors’ work satisfaction rate is higher than employees who don’t.


  • Achieve personal career gains 

A study shows mentees are promoted five times more often than those without mentors and mentors themselves are six times more likely to be promoted than those who didn’t, and 20% more likely to get a raise. The findings of the case study at Sun Microsystems was that the mentoring program had a significant positive impact on employee retention, salary grade, and pay increases both for mentors and mentees, which shows a mentoring programme can be beneficial for the overall design business or company.


Convinced you should give design mentoring a go? Make sure you do it right.

Think you rather be mentored than mentor yourself? Find out the reasons why you need a design mentor.

Get the most out of the mentor/mentee relationship

This Thursday, February 10th, Design Skillnet is delighted to host workshops for Mentors and Mentees, designed to impart and enhance the skills needed by both parties to gain the most from the mentoring process. These workshops will be facilitated by internationally renowned Prof. David Clutterbuck, one of the pioneers of developmental mentoring, co-founder of the European Mentoring and Coaching Council and chair of the International Standards for Mentoring Programmes in Employment.

Sign up for our Masterclasses for Mentors and Mentees or email to see how we can support you in your design career.

Find out how Design Skillnet can help you become more creative, human-centred, and impactful within your organisation.