Since January 2013 is the National Mentoring month, I’ll take this opportunity to write about how mentoring works and typical benefits both for the mentor and the protégé. If you do not have at least one active mentor, you are missing a lot. In my experience, having a strong mentor in my life made a huge difference in my career. Even now, in my ripening middle age, I am still gaining benefits from the lessons and ideas planted in me by my mentor when I was younger.
There are obvious benefits of having a mentor in your life:
1. A mentor helps you learn the ropes faster
2. A mentor coaches you on what to do and especially what to avoid.
3. A mentor is an advocate for you in different circles than yours.
4. A mentor helps you clean up when you make a mistake and helps protect your reputation.
5. A mentor pushes you when you need pushing and praises you when you need it.
6. A mentor brings wisdom born of mistakes made in the past so you can avoid them.
7. A mentor operates as a sounding board for ideas and methods.
I support the idea of fostering mentors, but the typical mentor programs in most organizations are procedural rather than organic.
The more productive program seeks to educate professionals on the benefits of having a mentor and encourage people to find their own match. This strategy works much better because the chemistry is right from the start, and both parties immediately see the huge gains being made by both people. It is a mutually-supported organic system rather than an activities-based approach. It is pretty obvious how the protégé benefits in a mentor relationship, but how does the mentor gain from it?
Mentors also gain significantly in many ways:
1. The mentor focuses on helping the protégé, which is personally satisfying.
2. The mentor can gain information from a different level of awareness that may not be readily available by any other means.
3. The mentor helps find information and resources for the protégé, so there is some important learning going on. The best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else.
4. While pushing the protégé forward in life, the mentor has the ability to return some favors owed to others.
5. The mentor gains a reputation for nurturing people and can thus attract better people over time.
6. The mentor can enhance his or her legacy by creating an understudy.
Encourage a strong mentoring program but steer clear of the mechanical match game and the busywork of an overdone process. Let people recognize the benefits and figure out their optimal relationships.
Dr Surya M Ganduri, PhD. PMP. is the Founder & President of eMBC, Inc., an international firm specializing in strategic and executive leadership development processes that Help People Succeed in an Evolving World. Dr Surya has over 28 years of business experience in management consulting, leadership development, executive coaching, process improvements, organizational development and youth leadership. For more information visit www.eMBCinc.com or contact eMBC, Inc., directly at (630) 445-1321.