You have a decent job, you may even be complacent as your career has settled, almost like the foam on the top of a beer settles when you leave it on the counter for too long. The beer’s still okay, it does the trick, but it just isn’t the same without the foam. If you think deeply, the same too could be said about many of us in our current personal and professional situations. It may be time for you to acquire a mentor, someone to help guide and push you towards your goals and even dare I say your dreams.
James! This is Old News! We know this stuff!
Folks, you’re absolutely right! Needing some guidance? Needing the ever so valuable assistance of a mentor? This is, unfortunately, an old problem that many of us are victim to, day in and day out, without even realizing. So what is missing? Why don’t people just pull out their smartphones and order a mentor same-day delivery off Prime? If it’s such a valuable personal commodity to have, why aren’t more people doing it? The problem lies not in the value of developing a mentor/mentee relationship but in the issue of what it actually takes to acquire a mentor in the first place!
Everyone Is Different
Everyone is equally a human being, yes. On the same token, everyone is different in their own unique ways. Some people are extroverts, and some people are introverts. Some people have excellent networking skills, and other people fumble their words and won’t make eye contact. Everyone is different, yet everyone presents their own unique ingredient in the pot of soup that makes a company hearty and delicious; this is what organizational culture and diversity are all about. At the same time, we need to first take a second to talk about what skills are required to obtain a mentor.
Getting a Booster Shot
Acquiring a quality mentor takes three main qualities: social-understanding (redefined), a little bit of strategic-awareness and the ability to understand how this process works in other people. I consider social-understanding to contain everything you could imagine in the neighborhood of conversational and interpersonal etiquette, to relationship building skills, to self-branding, and even some networking basics. The strategic awareness I mention is pretty much just a general sense of the direction your trying to head in. You don’t always have to know the destination, but you at least have to know the direction! What does this mean? It means that if you’re a person having trouble finding a mentor, it may be time to reflect and rebuild. Practicing your ability to talk to people, practicing active listening, answering whether or not you have a direction or if you’re stuck in a rut… These are all fantastic ways to give yourself and even possibly your career, a booster shot!
What This Means to a Company
At the other end of the table, if you’re running a company that has a mentorship program and that mentorship program isn’t designed organically and naturally, you’re doing it wrong. You’re going to, if you’re not already, lose valuable and talented employees, most likely causing you to waste money on the back end of your employee recruitment and retainment program. What does this mean? This means that by driving training in the direction of the underlying professional social skills that allow for mentorship to naturally develop and fostering this learning through a partnership between Human Resources and Management, we can, in my professional opinion, expect to observe the following on our metrics over time:
- Reduced Turnover
- Increased Internal Advancement
- Reduction in Onboarding Expense
- Reduction in Training Expense
- Increased Employee Engagement
- Increases in Positive Company Culture
- Increases in Company Cohesion
- A decrease in Disconnect Between Senior Management and Subordinates
- Increased Morale
- Increased Productivity
- Increase in Profits
I don’t know about you but that meal smells good to me!
So, what’s the scoop? It’s plain and simple. There’s much more to finding a mentor than meets the eye. Accordingly, there’s much more to fostering mentorship within the walls and realms of a company as well! Folk’s, you have to understand that mentoring is a human thing, and it requires social skills and a human touch. Unfortunately, in my professional assumption, there’s no bureaucratic process nor machine that can truly make any mentoring program work, it requires real leadership.