Key Steps to Becoming a Good Mentor
Giving back is a responsibility. Helping others with the experience and skills you've built will make your company more successful and your life more worthwhile.
Helping others move ahead will give anyone with seniority, a sense of purpose, satisfaction and a whole new perspective on how work could be worthwhile.
Mentoring is very satisfying. And so we often say, mentors help but are helped themselves.
Mentors Nudge On Others
Mentors help people to learn as they work and nudge them to improve their skills, think out solutions, wrestle with issues, discover ways of doing things and face challenges. Of course, there is also the red faced howling hockey coach style of yesteryear but maybe we've passed that!
Today's leaders often talk about mentoring but the truth of the matter is many don't really want to share with others what they consider their own competitive advantage. And for others, they really haven't a clue as to why they have been successful as they are as introspective as a flashlight.
Mentors help others overcome the fear of failure
People are often not sure of their capabilities until someone gives them a bit of a focus.
Try..."hey...you know what....you`re pretty good at this CBM (confidence building measures)". Know that the people you are nudging often refuse to take on responsibilities because of their fear of failure.
In many organizations, the fear of failure is so strong that people just limit their contribution to what exactly is expected which is often just the minimum requirements. But when you support them if they fail, even they will surprise themselves at what they can do. They will then be able to help several others in the organization, building an organization culture that kick-starts confidence and develops more mentors.
How does mentoring help you?
Makes you think a bit and ask some questions about your own performance. Beyond this, you build stronger persons in your organization with competencies needed in the job as well as the capacity to take responsibility. And there is no delay between the "nudge" and the application. It's all applied and hands on.
Mentoring happens all the time
You don't need to do this in formal situations. You don't need to organize a mentoring session. Each time you get a question from a junior, counter with "What do you think? What do you propose we should do?" "Any ideas"?
Just the idea that they can figure out a problem themselves may take the cork from the bottle. The coach is not giving the answers...she`s helping the learner find them by giving a nudge!
Mentoring is the Best of Learning
The best of learning, if you ask me. Mind you, if each time they face a problem, they go to you for solutions, they will develop a dependency that will just cripple their own growth! So, how do you mentor them so soon they won't need you and learn to mentor others?
Instead of just giving your decisions on matters that are brought to the table for discussions, ask the following:
Mentoring history is quite long as it its roots can be traced back to the 8th century B.C. from the elderly man, Mentor, who counseled Odysseus. He also tutored Odysseus' son, Telemachus.
In the ancient times, mentoring was the only way commerce, craft, and art were passed on.
Leading Questions in Mentoring
In your mentoring, you can use these leading questions: (Am I spoonfeeding you?). "If we follow that route, how do we go about it? What will we need? Do we have those resources? If we don't have them in-house, where can we get them?"
Sometimes, because of lack of practice and experience, people don't see where ideas lead. They don't think laterally, vertically or across disciplines. It takes experience in many situations to sometimes think of good ideas especially in panic moments.
This is where as a mentor you draw from your experience and you show them how to think beyond their usual modes. Tell them about a problem you had and give hints on how you tackled it.
There are many paths to success. There is no model that fits all. Not everyone can be Jobs or Gates.
1. The mentor has to help the mentee dig deeper into his own strengths and how to highlight this for the company's and his own success.
The mentor is also there to help the mentee discover insigths into how he can manage his own weaknesses and use this for his success. Or, at least, mitigate its impat on his success. This is where a more experienced person can really provide the insights needed.
2. Mentors encourage mentees to be the best they can be. As you build people up, you get to see clearly their strengths and weaknesses. Play up the strengths especially when you have deadlines and commitments.
But when there is an opportunity, help people mitigate the adverse effects of their weaknesses if they are not able to do something about it.
Remember, mentoring happens during the activity, not afterwards. Post hoc analysis is also important, but it's another tool.
3. Mentors delegate tasks and responsibilities to people recognizing their capabilities to make a go of it. And when they do, they are recognized. As people learn how much they can contribute, they get motivated.
Making them see clearly what they can contribute to the team's success is the task of the mentor. Everybody does not have to be great at everything. When each team member sees how important their contribution is to the team, he/she wll be there to give his/her best.
The more you mentor others, the stronger you become as a person. The wider will your influence be as well. The key thing is to share what you know and build people up. This is how you build yourself. Don't make a big office show of your coaching. Do it quietly over in a corner. What goes around comes around. Trust it.
What Mentoring Does
This program has been instituted in some schools but this would be a very effective program in many organizations especially when new employees come in or when new skills are needed like for example when a new software is incorporated into the system.
This will build relationships and also upgrade the skills not only of the people who are being mentored but more so the one mentoring.
Here's a good read on how to be a good mentor.
This is a good way of training people in leadership roles or spotting people who can be promoted later into more leadership functions. If you have not yet tried this in your organization, start it.
This can give new life to your aging employees who not only have the history but also the skills built up for years of working in the organization.
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