Reinventing Oneself

Today the age doesn’t matter anymore; it’s the experience and knowledge that count and make the perfect mentor. Let’s see who a mentor is and how everyone in a company can profit from his expertise.

Illustration by Peter Arkle, New York, USAWhen Odysseus, King of Ithaca, went to fight in the Trojan War, he entrusted his friend, Mentor, with the education of his son, Telemachus. Mentor’s task was to educate, train, and develop the youngster to fulfill his birthright and become king. While organizations may not be preparing employees to become “king” (or “queen”), they clearly understand the importance of preparing future leaders and being recognized as learning organizations. A learning organization values its workforce as its Number one resource and refuses to be compromised by the competition. What is Mentoring?, What is a Mentor? , Why is a mentor important?, Who benefits? The responses of these questions are making an impact on the way organizations are doing business. Organizations are discovering that the workplace is changing at such a rapid pace, that they must be ready with the technology and the talent to meet these changes or they will be left in the dust by their competition.

Mentoring is a series of processes whereby employees with more knowledge help and guide those with less experience. Mentoring is an active and sincere effort designed to unleash the full potential of an individual through the development of Knowledge, Skills and Organizational insight. Supervisory mentoring is the natural personnel development based on needs observed and addressed by the supervisor. Informal mentoring is when one individual helps another with a specific skill or knowledge area and is infrequent or a one-time event. Spontaneous mentoring is a moment when a new set of information is gained without pre-planning on the part of the teacher or the learner. It does, however, have significant and lasting impact on the way the learner moves forward with the knowledge. Role model mentoring is related more to the professionalism, communications and personnel interaction that are observed by another. These characteristics are integrated into one’s own attitudes and behaviors about the workplace and co-workers. Facilitated mentoring moves the mentoring relationship from the informal to the formal. It takes the key elements of solid relationship building and combines them with a strategically planned design for empowering employees.

A mentor is someone who offers the wisdom of his/her experience. A mentor helps someone learn something the learner would otherwise have learned less well, more slowly, or not at all.

Management faces the never-ending challenge of responding to changes while maintaining industry integrity. Cutting-edge organizations have found that facilitated mentoring is a mechanism for rejuvenating itself from within and preparing the workforce for the challenges of tomorrow. No longer will people happen into jobs. Advancement by seniority or obligation is replaced with advancement by skill, knowledge and organizational savvy.


For the Protégé
Improved performance
Career guidance assistance
More realistic career goals, strategies and options
Increased visibility
Greater understanding of the organization, its culture and values
Access to a role model
Opportunities to participate in challenging developmental assignments
Encouraged growth beyond usual     expectations

For the Mentor
New perspectives
Sharpened leadership and interpersonal skills
Expanded business contacts
Greater appreciation of workforce     perspectives
Personal satisfaction in helping protégé
Docemur Doscendo:  he who teaches, learns

For the Organization
Highly skilled and professional workforce
Enhanced leadership potential
Retention of “corporate memory”
Improved transfer of knowledge and skills
Tool for recruitment and succession planning
Improved flow or organizational information and sharing

Let me stress that a formalized or facilitated mentoring program is not a training event but rather a long-term process. Mentoring employees is no longer just a ‘nice thing’ to do, but is key to building a solid foundation for change, transitions, growth, and innovation.

The payoff of investing in a protégé. As the owner of a growing business, I decided to hire and mentor an operations manager so I could travel to client locations and be assured that everything would run smoothly in my absence and, to also have some personal time. John, learned quickly, and followed my every example of client marketing, servicing and retention.  Then, the unthinkable happened. John quit and started a competing business! First, I was mortified – then angry – then proud of his success.

Mentoring: a great tool for professional growth. Patty Smith, a manager of an international bank, was seeking career advancement. She had been working for several years but had not been able to have a supervisory position even though she applied for every position available. As she went through the mentoring program, she was able to identify her strengths and skill areas that she needed to strengthen, and her confidence reached a new level. Patty also learned more about the political workings of the organization and the requirements for moving up. Shortly after that, she was offered another position with more opportunities for growth.


Published in the hard-copy of Work Style Magazine, Spring 2010