That is the question (Peter ShakesPierre, 2013)
Mentor season has begun
In Australia at least, Spring is sprung. The weather feels like it’s turned. As we all warm up, we are on top of the world, apologies to those who may be cooling down up there in the north of the planet, but down here we are “really” on top of the world. New lambs frolicking in the paddock signal the beginning of the Mentoring season.
Armed with a bunch of new development goals and the energy to grow and develop vocationally, it’s time to find the tools and support to achieve our objectives. One of the most effective and efficient options is mentoring.
As soon as we want answers nowadays, we go straight to Uncle Google. Well, here’s the good news, like Google, a wealth of knowledge in whatever your discipline is, operations, people management, client service, business development, marketing and so on, exists right in the company or business in which you work and it can be tailored to your personal needs.
My personal experience
This year I mentored a number of staff at my company who had a need/desire for support in the areas that I have experience and I am passionate about, and what a wonderful experience it was for me. It was a privilege to be selected by these people as their mentor and to work with them. The result was equally as rewarding and developmental for me as it was for them. I genuinely applaud their initiative in organising a mentor and for recognizing the potential in the process and taking ownership of and responsibility for their career. This year I will definitely enter the company program again with enthusiasm and look forward to really getting to know another bunch of great people.
Not just a mentor … a mentee
Equally, in the quest for continual improvement, I have found someone I can work with on an as needs, but regular basis, who I can discuss thoughts, ideas, concerns and so on with. These relationships are incredibly important, beneficial and rewarding. I strongly recommend you avail yourself of the great wealth of experience that resides within the walls of your many offices across the globe.
If you’ve never mentored before, or had a mentor or a coach, and you’re unsure of the value, do yourself a favour and chat to a couple of your work friends who have, and get their thoughts, or chat to your HR Consultant. If you’re a Line Manager, then encourge your reports to consider seeking a mentor. Their success is your success.
Why be … a Mentee?
Of course I googled it, and there was my exact question and answer, but that later, first my thoughts.
A mentor is the perfect complement to development goals. Once an employee has determined what they want/need to develop (personally or through the official performance and development process) and have committed to that, then you need the tools to facilitate that growth. Training is one of the tools, on the job experience and networking are key and a mentoring relationship is of course yet another great development tool.
Mentoring is not just a one-way flow of information from a mentor to a mentee until they overflow. It’s about:
- creating an environment which challenges and develops the mentee;
- exploring and testing the knowledge and capability that a mentee has within;
- supporting them with ideas to trigger creative thinking about solutions and opportunities; and
- working with the mentee to help monitor and review their development.
Both parties have a responsibility to the process and to be accountable for their achievements. Mentors can help reduce the learning curve for an individual by providing a trial and error, ‘Beta’ if you like, environment, off line, a place where ideas and plans can be tested, explored and re-evaluated in a safe environment.
6 Compelling reasons to engage a mentor
Here are some great reasons I found, on the Internet, why you should go ahead and get yourself a mentor.
Learning new things about yourself: The self-reflection that can result from a mentoring relationship can be a powerful growth experience and provide you with new insights about yourself.
Making more of your strengths and exploiting your hidden talents: A good mentor will push you to do more with your strengths, and help you discover and exploit hidden talents.
Contributing to the success of your community and company: A mentee who builds a strong position in his or her community ultimately contributes to the success of the company.
Career satisfaction: You will be more satisfied with your career if you’re better at performing your job; and your company and community will be more satisfied with your performance, as well, lending more stability in your career.
Expanding your personal network: Entering into a mentoring relationship adds your mentor to your personal network, and may lead to an introduction to the individuals in the mentor’s network.
A source of referrals: Your mentor may refer you to other mentors once s/he has a better understanding of your needs, abilities, and goals.
A little about the process
With my Mentees, we began by spending time getting to know each other, establishing a rapport of course and then working together to understand the opportunities that may or may not be evident at the outset. Sometimes this takes a little digging and what you uncover can be a revelation to everyone. It’s definitely not necessary to understand exactly what you’re trying to achieve from the outset, but it’s critical to establish the opportunities quickly and carefully, and to set goals for development. And a stretch is a great idea. It’s important to make the goals achievable, not so easy they are not challenging and not particularly rewarding, but also not so difficult that they are unattainable and lead to frustration and disappointment. But be prepared to stretch yourself in order to get the most out of the process.
What’s in it for….. a Mentor? Simple answer is “LOTS”
There is a really great article titled the “5 reasons you should become a mentor” at http://www.tlnt.com/2013/08/21/5-really-good-reason-you-should-consider-being-a-mentor/
The article says that mentoring is all about how this process, through your contribution, can literally change the life of another person, at the least their career or their level of engagement in your company. It’s a great way for you personally as a mentor to expand your own knowledge. Not just your interpersonal skills, your ability as a coach, a listener, a questioner, but your understanding of other areas of the business, other processes, situations etc. It’s a great networking opportunity for mentors and it provides professional exposure, potentially connecting you to other leaders. For each person you work with, you are doing something that really matters and that contributes positively to staff engagement and the Vibrancy of your company.
Our greatest ‘reference resource’ undoubtedly exists within the minds of our people. Tapping this thousands of years of resource effectively (Mentoring is one such way) gives us access to an enormous wealth of intellect and experience. (Peter ShakesPierre, 2013)
I hope you at least do some research and consider Mentoring or being mentored. It is a really important, positive and proactive opportunity for us all. Good luck.