Leadership for Life – Becoming a Mentor

By on April 30, 2012
Becoming a Mentor

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I had the opportunity to attend a meeting at HRMA a few weeks ago, where the topic of presentation was all about mentoring. Rik Nemanick (http://leadership-effect.com/) was the primary speaker and resource, and he made an excellent case for setting up a mentoring program within an organization.

Some of the obvious benefits include helping employees develop their skills and careers over the long term. Building a leadership “pipeline” is an important issue in many organizations, especially when faced with imminent retirement of senior executives and managers. Internal mentoring can facilitate this process.

One of the benefits of mentoring is that the mentor also grows personally and professionally. Mentoring is definitely a two-way street. Sometimes a mentoring program can offer opportunities for reverse-mentoring, in which a younger, less experienced person, nominally a “mentee,” offers the older, more experienced mentor the opportunity for growth in areas such as newer technologies and the use of social media. This keeps the nominal mentor from growing stale, while ensuring that s/he stays up to date on the value and use of newer approaches to sales and marketing, corporate communication, and even operations. Many mentors, according to Nemanick, report that they gain insight into other parts of their own organizations. Many organizational consultants (including our people at Workforce Solutions Group) offer assistance and consultation with setting up a mentoring or coaching program. It is often an advantage to the organization to get professional consultation with mentoring and/or coaching, since it tends to reduce confusion between the roles of boss and mentor/coach, increases the comfort level of mentees with sharing sensitive information, and maintains the independence of the mentee in the learning process. It also helps the organization to have a clear goal for the program, rather than doing it because it’s the trendy thing to do.

I wonder how many of you have had experience with coaching or mentoring, either within your organization or individually. I invite you to share your experiences with me, and I’ll try to compile some experiences (confidentially, of course) for a future blog post. I can be reached at bschapiro@stlcc.edu. And if you don’t care who sees what you have to say, post a comment below.

About Barry Schapiro

Barry is the Workforce Solutions Group Practice Leader for Leadership and Professional Development. His experience includes delivery and management of business training in a variety of industries, with specialties in leadership, team development, generational diversity, and customer service. Twitter

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