Mentoring depends on a valuable fit. I have watched well-matched mentor relationships create amazing new value for those involved and their businesses.
School kids will often seek out others who know more than they do in areas in which they want to learn beyond what is taught in class. In school there may seem to be many possible Mentors at first, but then over time kids are able to isolate the noise from the real sources of knowledge and learn from them.
In business, this model seems to repeat itself as well. A person with a background in deep engineering or creative may have gained the tools to get a job and succeed in that capacity. But to continue to grow, there is far more to learn and absorb. Thumbing through endless books and twitter postings can remind potential Mentees of the noise to signal ratio of school days past. There are a few experts in their areas that Mentees can glean little bits of wisdom and skill from, but often times it can be difficult to experience evolutionary learning in a business environment. Many now know they need to cook up a new plan to accelerate learning or be eaten alive as future business demands are changing in faster waves.
You’re On Your Own Kid
Some of the best Mentor relationships happen organically. Sometimes, a Mentee may come across someone who speaks in a completely different business language. For example, the Mentee speaks in technical or creative terms, and the Mentor is speaking in terms of value or process. An outstanding Mentor can enable them to think completely differently, even about the same topic at hand. This can become a daily challenge that leads to an evolutionary leap in new thought patterns. If they are able to focus together on very specific opportunities and projects, they will be able to create a greater value for each other, and for the businesses involved (1+1=3).
Organized Intentional Mentoring
There are many different techniques for a business to intentionally implement a Mentoring environment within the business. Organized mentor programs allow Mentees to open doors to Mentors in the business where they lacked other methods to make that business contact.
Management can align team members on projects and departmental initiatives into these potential mentoring relationships. This structure is often identified as formalized “Coaching” instead of “Mentoring”. It doesn’t have to be a direct report relationship and doesn’t require written objectives to become a mentoring opportunity. Instead it helps to have a mutual value creation through collaboration attribute. Some of these relationships will produce little to no mentoring output, others may provide a networking and learning relationship, and if lucky a few will have long lasting relationships from which they and their business will greatly benefit. The low to no output situations often result in a lack of time, interest or relevance between the potential Mentor and Mentee. But, there’s no use crying over spilled milk.
In some work environments, a formal global mentoring software platform may get rolled out. Many have tried to participate in them, both as a Mentor and Mentee, but again results will vary. For some it may not really produce any impactful result other than two people sharing information about what’s going on in their part of the business. Without some quick-tips and guidance, these large-scale systems often become business-networking-light and usually last about 2 quarters before a large percentage of staff stop using it. But, within that spectrum, new and valuable Mentor relationships emerge as well.
External Executive Mentoring
Often when executives and management realize change is needed within their business, they will meet with and bring in external executive consultants. This can happen when the current teams are busy keeping the lights on, they may not have the recent market experience to implement new changes, or an outside opinion is needed to validate internal perspectives. These mentoring relationships are often initiated around significant business change such as: business plan development for significant revenue growth, business consolidation, cost control, vendor consolidation, or systems & process change. These relationships then continue less formally over time until another significant business change emerges.
There are many different types of mentoring relationships and each with varying personal or formal intended goals associated with them. The key to success in one mentoring relationship can be completely different than in another relationship. Having this expectation is important to all involved. Ask yourself what you want out of this relationship, and not just in the beginning, but on a regular basis. If your goals change, and you find this relationship continues to meet your new goals, you may have found an amazing relationship that warrants more of a time commitment. Look to find additional business initiatives to collaborate together. Sometimes these situations can lead to a direct reporting reassignment for the Mentee.
Finding a Match (not quite eHarmony)
Many business-mentoring relationships that are deriving significant mutual value tend to have some of the following attributes (and so many more):
- Both the Mentor and Mentee are working on more than 1 direct business project or initiative together. This solves the problem of both having time to spend with the other. Being too busy while focused on separate initiatives often leads to little interaction together or deep relevant topics to discuss.
- This isn’t always the case, but some of the larger growth observed involves both having significantly different formal educational background and business experience. For example, a Mentee with technical & creative experience, but a Mentor with functional & sales experience.
- Both have similar work/life habits. Ie: Both type A personalities, etc…
- Both regularly make insightful observations & recommendations that surprise and motivate the other.
- Both ask the other tough questions about the project or initiative they are working on causing the other to grow and learn. The constant challenge.
Why find a Mentor?
A Mentor can provide incredible real-world exposure and insight around:
- Project and departmental organization
- Planning, analysis & reporting
- Tools & process exposure
- Communication and Leadership
- Sales, marketing, & industry standards
- Business advice and new perspectives on solutions
- Improving foundational skills
- Healthy stress relief & problem solving
- Business and community networking exposure
- Provide protection in turbulent corporate storms
- Confidence and Trust
From young professionals to experienced executives, we can all experience incredible individual growth. Moreover, businesses can derive significant financial gain through thoughtful mentoring solutions. Mentees can have evolutionary leaps in value creation through this process by reducing personal anxiety. This happens by overcoming their fears of the unknown, fear of failure, and fear to take action with the guidance and safety-net of a mutually motivated Mentor working on common initiatives together. Both Mentors and Mentees can complement each other’s strengths like cookies & milk, creating a greater value when brought together.
My name is Brett Butler. I am an Executive Consultant respectfully helping companies analyze, plan and deliver accelerated business solutions across their enterprise. Clients span from startups, mid-sized businesses and global corporations. Solutions include strategic plans, custom software engineering in the cloud, and big data analysis.
Our company offers an excellent Mentoring & Team Collaboration solution within ClearGem.com . Ask for a friendly demo today.