The Lost Art of Mentoring: Part III

This is the third and final installment in a series on mentoring. Read Part One and Part Two.

If you were to explain your deepest passion and purpose in life, how would you go about it? For most people, everything boils down to success. Not monetary success, but succeeding in one’s goals for life, love, business, and relationships with others. True, success isn’t driven by bottom lines – but the bottom line is affected by achieving success. An organization is only as strong as the sum of its parts, and with employees making up the bulk of a company’s voice, it is important to understand the impact in not just investing in capital, but in your workforce as well. Your team is your key to innovation and maintaining a competitive advantage. While many realize this, there is still a disconnect between leadership and team members. The most effective way to create a culture-shift in making employees realize their worth within an organization is openly communicating and imparting knowledge through an age-old, venerable art – mentoring.

In the first article on mentorship, we established the importance mentoring has in business today; and in the second, we outlined how trust is crucial in developing a strong mentor-mentee relationship. Being in a leadership position, you have accrued valuable knowledge through experience and from other leaders throughout your life. Investing time and energy by imparting these qualities in your staff is the best way to engage your workers, develop their talent, and set a foundation for success. Before we go into the details of best practices for creating this culture, it is important to define some of the types of mentoring available to you.

Types of Mentoring
Once your organization realizes the significance of the mentor and mentee relationship, it’s necessary to evaluate the different types that can be implemented to better serve your workforce. The mentor character can be anyone in your company from a senior executive to a manager to an experienced, tenured employee, while the mentee can be a new employee or a leader as well. One mentoring relationship commonly used is situational mentoring. This relationship is forged when a need arises, like a new employee needing to learn the ropes or a team member requiring more attention while working on a specific project. The mentor, usually assigned, will take the other employee under his or her wing and impart specific knowledge to speed up the learning curve. Another example is a conventional mentorship in which a manager or team leader meets with an employee at a set time for the duration of the employee’s tenure. This is a great type because of its consistency and potential for being a solid source to tap into career knowledge that a younger, less experienced worker wouldn’t be party to. It can also be used for career guidance. The final type seen in the office is informal mentoring. This can be any level of worker confiding in or asking for advice from another when issues or questions arise. This informal relationship based on trust helps the mentee overcome stress and problems.

The Trickledown Effect
The three forms of mentorship above have their time and place in every organization. However, the most effective relationship will be a mix of all three. When projects are started that need extra guidance, the worker should be able to go to their conventional mentor, who they meet with regularly, to figure out what’s needed to accomplish the project – and if the worker is stressed and needs to vent, the mentor should be there as well. The more mentor relationships like this in your organization, the more productive your workforce will be. Referring to the first article in this series, the one-on-one, trickledown mentoring strategy is the best way to implement mentorships and create a culture of mentoring at your company. From C-suite to directors to managers to staff members, there is simply no better way to share the vision of the company and develop young talent than trickle-down mentoring. Establish the conventional mentoring strategy, add characteristics of informal and situational mentors, and watch how engaged your employees become.

A Culture of Mentoring
A colleague once told me of a mentor who helped shape who she was and what she looks for in a leader. This manager established herself as a go-to person for advice, because she was not only willing to train employees, but provide ongoing training to continually develop her staff. Her dedication to the company and advancing its overall vision was outside of her job description, yet nevertheless, she strived for improvement. This contagious mentality created a ripple effect among her team members. From top to bottom, mentorships affect the overall success of an organization. Where do you want to go as a company? Chances are, establishing a culture of mentoring will help get you there.

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