Mentor: A wise and faithful councilor.
– Webster’s New School and Office Dictionary
Mentoring roles: (As described by Brad Humphrey: Pinnacle Development Group)
INSTRUCTOR: Delivers the right lesson providing specific tips and techniques. Adapts to mentee learning style and teaches the ‘why behind the what’.
COACH: Observes and reviews mentees performance. Confronts, corrects, encourages, pushes and looks for opportunities to put mentee in a learning situation.
COUNSELOR: Listens before guiding. Maintains honesty, accuracy and confidentiality. Provides effective feedback and positive affirmation.
RESOURCE MANAGER: Provides learning resources. Involves mentee in trying new systems, techniques, tools, etc. Asks mentee to look for new resources.
FRIEND: Shares in the highs and lows of the process. Is patient, supportive, flexible, willing to trust and push the mentee to new challenges.
Above all, mentoring is about listening without negative judgment and questioning with respect. If the benefits of the mentor–mentee association are to be realized, the relationship must offer a calm, safe place to explore and question our surroundings and selves. In such a setting, both mentors and mentees inspire and challenge each other. The benefits become mutual and the possibilities become endless.
A twenty-year-old man might be a mentor for a thirteen-year-old boy passing through puberty and having difficulty with his parents or peers. A seventy-year-old woman might be a mentor for a fifty-year-old woman passing through menopause. A forty-year-old man who’s successfully survived a rocky turn in his marriage might mentor a fifty-year-old woman who’s contemplating divorce. The possibilities are as varied and limitless as the people.
Every mentor–mentee relationship offers a unique type of commitment. Healthy relationships need room to shift and evolve. We believe the mentoring time commitment can begin with the amount of time it takes to have a leisurely lunch every month or so, or even once or twice a year.
A mentor is someone who becomes part of our individual support and guidance networks and shares his or her experience.
The recent rise in popularity of corporate mentor–mentee programs is part of a move to reconnect. In corporate communities around the world, business leaders are developing or purchasing formal mentoring programs because they offer step-by-step structures and guaranteed outcomes.
From an employer’s perspective, these programs help develop more loyal, productive, motivated, and confident staff. As a result, financial outcomes are typically stronger.
From an employee’s perspective, mentor–mentee programs offer key strategies for successful living such as enhanced communication skills, tolerance for differences, opportunities for advancement and balance between work and life.
It’s a win–win situation for everyone. The more conscious we become of attracting mentors and being mentors, the more focused and effective our networking becomes.
At FindAMentor we, too, believe in the corporate benefits of formal mentoring programs. But we also believe that people seek and accept guidance in all aspects of their lives, not just their careers.
Although there has been a traditional separation between work and home, we feel that where we gain experience does not concern us as much as the effects of our experiences¾emotional, spiritual, or intellectual. If, for example, we were experiencing a difficult divorce, we could hardly deny its potential effect on job performance. If we were having personality conflicts at work that could jeopardize our job, we would undoubtedly find time to stress over it at home. At a very basic level, where our hopes, fears, and dreams reside, the boundaries between work and home can become very hazy.
There is opportunity to receive guidance and support at more fundamental levels. We believe that real growth can occur only when the needs of the whole person are addressed. If, for example, my employer pays my enrolment fees for a Toastmasters course because I’m afraid of public speaking, I must at some point recognize that my fear of it is not simply job-related.
It goes much deeper than that¾to my need for recognition, support, and respect and to my fear of losing those. The public speaking course offers a safe place to learn how to keep the respect and recognition I desire, whether I speak in public for my employer or for myself. From my employer’s perspective, the course can make me a more effective staff member. From my perspective, I am becoming a more confident, well-rounded person.
We believe the first and best place to find mentors and mentees is in our existing network of family, friends, and associates. But sometimes—when we move to a new city, for instance—we need other options because our networks are very small.
The mentoring program at FindAMentor believes in supporting and nurturing both the professional and personal development needs of individuals. That is why we have created a philosophy of mentoring that focuses on communication and the process of discovery.
There are no hoops to jump through. There are no step-by-step directions that cater to a lowest common denominator rather than particular needs. There are no magic cures. By the same token, there is unlimited opportunity to grow and learn. There is opportunity to safely seek out a connection that will facilitate growth within each individual in an area of life where there is desire for change.
As a potential mentor it is important to understand how our philosophy translates into action. Everyone has the potential to become a mentor.
Whether you are a high-level executive or a bartender or a stay-at-home dad, you’ve had many experiences that can be shared with others going through similar stages in their lives. Most of us find it easy to relate with other people about, work, play, and similar life process experience (puberty, midlife, menopause and old age). These shared experiences form the basis for connecting with others.
Rarely are there times when mentors take on the more formal role of coach or consultant, but as relationships develop, it can happen. When I ask my mentor to take on this role, I am asking for different, more detailed advice. This process requires a longer time commitment for a short period and is very helpful when needed.
On one occasion I was moving my cellular phone business to a larger store. I hired one of my mentors as a consultant to help me create a business plan and hire new salespeople. He had very credible experience in both areas. The relationship shifted back to being less formal after the consulting contract.
You could become a mentor!
When you give of yourself, your generosity returns to you and brings balance to your life.
Thanks for reading.