Grow professionally with a mentor’s help!
Just adeptly negotiating the corporate minefield is often not enough because an employee needs guidance to shine brightly and it is exactly this that a mentor provides.
Rob Doeven; Owner of IMCAT ASIA and current CEO of the Majestic Oriental Hotel, said recently that the process of mentoring is often misunderstood with a lot of people wrongly thinking that it is about telling people what to do, how to do it, when they have got to do it by and judging the results.
“It’s a guiding process to help people to develop in certain ways and the best way to start with that is to decide if you are going to mentor somebody or somebody needs to be mentored and very often it comes from the person to be mentored and that is really a healthy way of doing it.”
While a mentor is usually a supervisor who has more experience and knowledge on the selected topic this is not always so because peers too could mentor each other.
Of course, a mentor does not know everything so a person could have more than one mentor although a mentoring session is usually one-on-one.
“It has got, to be honest, it must be an honest exchange between two people but the emphasis is not on the mentor telling the other one what to do but rather drawing them out and asking them ‘What problems have you had? How would you like to develop – in which area? What issues are you trying to solve? ’
“And very often you will find that people come up with solutions that are better than the mentor is aware of and very often you get innovation from that as well.”
Mr.Doeven added that it is a good idea to start mentoring by deciding how you would like the mentee to develop or work out how they would like to develop. Once this is done the mentor should work on questions related to this goal.
“For example, if we want people to read more you might ask them this question consistently ‘What have you read this week that brings wisdom in whatever topic we are looking at?’ “Or if you want them to be innovative ’What have you done differently this week?” How could we do things differently?’ – those questions.”
In the business world, it has long been felt by many leaders that mentoring is actually a huge part of leadership, mentoring is in fact what leadership is all about. Mr.Doeven emphasized that mentoring is not about teaching but rather drawing people out and getting them to come up with their own solutions.
“For example, you might be mentoring somebody and they come up with an idea and they’ll enthusiastically mention the idea to the mentor but the mentor sees that there are problems with this. “Instead of saying ‘That will never work out’ he might say ‘Well that is a really interesting idea, it’s really great but you have your thoughts about how the sales department will respond to this idea because it might upset them.’ “Then you will find that the mentee is going to say ’Oh, I never thought about that’ or ’Oh, yes I had thought about that and here is another solution to that.’
Mr.Doeven mentioned a recent article in Harvard Business Review which focused on the findings by the National Economic Research that the most significant impact bosses had did not come from their motivational skills but from teaching and guiding employees to be more productive and able to build up capacity. “There was another research that found that mentoring results in improved morale, greater employee engagement, more innovation and higher retention. “About 71% of Fortune 500 companies have some sort of mentor program but it isn’t meant for just big companies, the same research has shown that small companies, entrepreneurial companies also benefit the same way.”
However, in spite of these benefits, Mr.Doeven is well aware that employee tenure has become shorter with this making getting advice or help less practical than before.
“And middle management has been slashed and there are fewer folks able to help so clearly there is a great opportunity to mentor more these days.”
Under the IMCAT programs on mentoring by Mr.Doeven, there are six steps to effective mentoring.
The first step is to always remember that mentoring relationships are joint ventures with both parties wanting to mentor. The mentor and the protégée must be comfortable with and willing participants in this process or it will fall flat.
The second step is to establish expectations, boundaries, and goals very early in the relationship. The expectation of a mentoring should be professional development not necessarily a promotion. ”And establish boundaries where the mentor’s focus will be – sometimes the goal of a mentoring is a specific skill or experience that the mentee wishes to develop or learn or become better at.”
Thre third step suggests that mentors should talk about successes and failures. Sometimes mentors are tempted to show off their experience and display how clever they are but that is not the point of this process. “The process is not to impress but to find out what they can actually do as a result of the relationship.”
The fouth step encourages mentors to look for moments where their protégées could be referred to others in order to help expand their network because who they know makes a big difference to their careers.
The fifth step of effective mentoring is to give positive reinforcement to good mentors knowing how to encourage their protégées and also realizing the power of consistent questions.
The sixth step and the last step is to foster independence because the process of mentoring should not go on forever.
“ I believe that the person who can really make that decision is probably the mentor.”
To contact Mr. Rob Doeven, please send an email to email@example.com