In this fast paced, high stress, highly competitive marketplace, individuals and organizations are looking for avenues to increase productivity and decrease stress. As technology and information overwhelms us, we often need to go back to basic answers to solve our most complex issues. Mentoring is one of the basic foundations that can address both the individual and organizational needs of our time.
Since the beginning of time, mentoring has been a key to passing on knowledge and developing talent for the future. Mentoring is beneficial to the individual and the organization. It can also be a relatively simple process to implement given a few guidelines to launch the process. In my book, A Structured Mentoring Process, I provide tools to enhance your mentoring relationship.
Three reasons why organizations support mentoring programs:
- Mentoring programs help attract and retain Superstars.
- Mentoring programs help develop future leaders.
- Mentoring programs set organizations apart from their competitors.
Three reasons why individuals choose to be a mentor:
- Create a Legacy – The knowledge and values a mentor imparts to a protégé can inspire new ideas, growth and value-based decision-making for many years to follow.
- Improve Coaching and Leadership Skills – A necessary ingredient for successful organizations of the 21st century is the increase of leadership and coaching skills in the organization. Mentoring can provide experience in working with a variety of personalities, skills, work styles, aspirations and assist in enhancing coaching and leadership skills.
- Enhance Performance – To teach something, you must know something. Mentors repeatedly report the mentoring relationship brings them to a new level of awareness about their own performance. Often, this leads to their own professional increase of knowledge.
Three reasons why individuals chose to be protégés:
- Heightened Self-Awareness – Obtaining accurate information about how one is perceived by others on a professional and personal level can move an individual to a more successful career.
- Improving Operations Skills – The knowledge and wisdom from others can bring theoretical learning to practical applications without the pitfalls of learning through trial and error. Professional effectiveness can be streamlined through the mentoring process.
- Career Insights – Each career is unique. Issues such as work/life balance, career management and organizational effectiveness can be clarified and developed through the mentoring process.
The reluctance to enter mentoring relationships often revolves around the uncertainty of how to get started. “What will we talk about? Will I have anything to share?” are common questions that prevent the process from beginning. The shift needs to be from worrying about the “what” to knowing about the “how”. In other words, “how do we establish the relationship?” Once the relationship is established, the “what will we talk about” often takes care of itself. Here are the key ingredients in establishing the mentoring relationship.
The mentor’s roles and responsibilities:
- Develop clear expectations and specific goals, using these as a foundation for the conversation and relationship.
- Be available and responsive. You may not have all the answers but probably have access or connections to others who might.
- Listen effectively to ask pertinent questions and provide sound advice.
- Create a positive learning environment by providing encouragement and constructive feedback.
- Maintain confidentiality.
- Share relevant experiences, including successes and failures.
The protégé’s roles and responsibilities:
- Establish a meeting timetable with specific agendas.
- Share specific goals, hopes and expectations for the mentoring relationship.
- Be open and receptive to constructive feedback.
- Listen effectively to learn from the mentor’s experience, background and perspectives.
Mentoring relationships can be tremendously rewarding and beneficial to the individual and the organization. Mentoring can be a key foundation to help navigate the changes of a challenging business world.
Have you been a mentor or protege? Does your organization have a mentoring program? What has been your experience?
For more tips and tools on what to do once you create awareness, check out my webinar recording, BE The Leader You Were Meant To BE. Click here for more information.
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