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Mentoring – A key towards success

In Leadership , March 15, 2018

Are you a Mentor?– This is a key question, each professional worth his / her mettle need to answer on many an occasion. A lot of times, managing is confused for mentoring and vice-versa. Let me start by defining who is a mentor – “A ’mentor’ is one who helps / tutors / advises / leads / guides a ‘protégée’ towards the achievement of protégée’s goals; Mentor also is one who takes the special interest in the overall development of the protégée. Please read on…to get some answers…

Empathize – Influence – Enhance

As employees are the real drivers (most of the times, the only drivers) of your business, it becomes imperative that they are nurtured technically and psychologically.

In many companies, they are given more than the handful of choices for choosing the areas they want to be groomed. Giving right direction is core for their growth rather than leaving it is as an open-ended question.

A quantitative methodology – Key Performance Indicator – KPI’s plays a major role in the individual’s growth. Over a period of time, employees should feel aligned and empowered to pursue their organizational objectives and departmental goals. This is well done only if Mentoring is taken up as an ‘organizational KPI’ for every department. Mentoring need not be done just by the immediate reporting authority who can identify the protégée’s personal strengths and weaknesses at work; it can also be taken up by anyone who has both the ‘will and skill’ to lead an individual towards the achievement of the set goals.

However, one has to define the line of expectation from mentoring, which can otherwise result in pitfalls-

  • Do not encourage the protégée to use you (mentor) as a benchmark / as a point of reference to measure his / her performance nor your name for personal gains
  • Don’t try to put ROI on mentoring
  • Ensure that the gains out of mentoring are further shared by the protégée to many others in the organization.Remember! Maximizing the butterfly effect (refer – Chaos Theory) for positive results is key for success.
  • Mentoring should be personality independent.

To put this in a nut-shell – Mentoring is a tool that organizations can use to nurture and grow their people. It can be an informal practice or a formal program.

Protégés observe, question and explore;
Mentor demonstrates, explains and models.

The following could be used as the foundation for a solid mentoring program:

  • Deliberate learning is the cornerstone – The mentor’s job is to promote intentional learning, which includes capacity building through methods such as instructing, coaching and role play.
  • Both failure and success are powerful teachers – Mentors, as leaders of a learning experience, certainly need to share their “how to do it, so it comes out right” stories. They also need to share their experiences of failure, i.e., “how I did it wrong”. Both types of stories are powerful lessons that provide valuable opportunities for analyzing individual and organizational realities.
  • Need to tell your stories – Personal scenarios, anecdotes and case examples, because they offer valuable, often unforgettable insight, must be shared. Mentors who can talk about themselves and their experiences establish a rapport that makes them “learning leaders.”
  • Development matures over time – Mentoring — when it works — taps into continuous learning that is not an event, or even a string of discrete events. Rather, it is the synthesis of ongoing events, experiences, observations, studies, and thoughtful analyzes.
  • Mentoring is a joint venture – Successful mentoring means sharing responsibility for learning; regardless of the facilities, the subject matter, the timing, and all other variables. Successful mentoring begins with setting a contract for learning around which the mentor, the protégé, and their respective line managers are aligned.

I think the most important thing is to start to orient towards a mentoring approach in each walk of life. ‘By enabling others, we enable ourselves’.