Mentoring helps to encourage development and leadership

Male College Student Meeting With Campus Counselor Discussing Mental Health Issues

Mentoring helps to encourage development - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Why Mentoring Works

It's free and it always works! How many times have you been given something like that to help you out in life or business?
 
Over the years we have found that so many businesses neglect to utilise and exploit the inherent skills that exist in their team members. Hard learned experience needs to be utilised to develop those who are less experienced. Business owners often focus on the role that a team member has been employed to do but often forget to truly understand each individual and what else they may have to offer. Many people have vast and varied life experiences and they can be put to excellent use through mentoring other members of the team.

It is a strong and proven method and a very cost-effective way of developing staff, if done correctly, there is inevitably only one outcome. The mentee progresses and develops, but there is also the hidden ‘win win’ and that is the satisfaction it delivers to the mentor.

“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” Steven Spielberg.

Mentoring is all about having a role model; someone who has the necessary experience to assist an individual through a particular phase or issue. The difference between coaching and mentoring is twofold, first the knowledge or expertise of the mentor and second, the fact that mentoring is designed for a specific period.

A mentor teaches someone ‘How to do things’ not ‘What to do’, it is much more about the approach than it is about the act.

“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” Proverb.

For me, it is all about providing the guidance and the environment to allow an individual to think and grow in their own environment much more than it is about providing the solution.

A mentor is also a caregiver, someone who is away from the everyday life of the mentee; someone who can look on and advise unemotionally and independently; someone away from their work or family hierarchy who can act as a sounding board, a helper and an advice giver. Great mentors are independent sounding boards and teachers who show genuine interest and care in achieving the desired outcome or achievement of those they are mentoring.

If you are in business and have someone who is underperforming or struggling in their role, then try linking them up with a more experienced mentor who can help them on their journey! The same applies to any situation be it sport, education, support groups etc.

When Sampson Hall delivers leadership programmes to organisations we encourage participants to select a mentor from within. The mentor is a support throughout the development phase but they also gain insight and greater understanding of the new processes that the mentee is learning.

Another very successful use of mentors is through the BEEP charity, where I am a trustee. The charity supports people aged 16 – 24 years to find employment, training or education, to move forward positively with their lives. The charity selects people in business and then pairs them with a young person who is not currently employed and they help to guide them on their journey of entering the workplace.

In both cases it has always been very important to ensure that the mentors understand what mentoring is. With mentoring comes boundaries and expectations and these have to be clearly understood. One of the real challenges for those who mentor is not to create a person in their own image whilst also understanding and not judging the real issues someone is going through to achieve their desired outcome.

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