It is more critical than ever to invest in mentoring. Mentoring benefits organizations in multiple ways by:
- Increasing retention rates
- Improving morale
- Increasing organizational commitment and job satisfaction
- Accelerating leadership development
- Enhancing succession planning
- Reducing stress
- Building stronger and more cohesive teams
- Heightening individual and organizational learning
In this issue we make the case for mentoring as a leadership competency, and offer suggestions for leaders to practice and promote mentoring excellence within their organization.
Mentoring is a Leadership Competency
When leaders commit to their own development as mentors they enlarge their own capacity to lead, support the growth and development of their people, and positively impact learning throughout their organization. Even with the best intentions, not all mentors are fully prepared for the role.
We recently heard from Mark, who shared his initial experience with an underperforming mentor. "I was excited when I learned that Jack, one of our most visible senior leaders, would be my mentor. I asked Jack at our first meeting why he agreed to be my mentor, and was flattered when he told me that he was always mentoring "up and coming" leaders and had had his eye on me for a while. He abruptly switched gears and started talking about the recent changes in company as a result of the economic downturn and how difficult those decisions had been to make. I wanted to ask him so much more about what influenced his decision-making but he kept looking at his watch and it made me think that I might be overstaying my welcome.
Just as our mentoring session was ending, Jack gave me several tasks to accomplish and report back on at our next meeting. I had been hoping to shadow Jack, meet with some of the other senior leaders, and learn from watching them in action. I left that first encounter feeling disappointed. Jack didn't appear to be really interested in having any meaningful conversation with me.
At our second meeting, I reported on the status of my assignments. Jack nodded as I summarized my results and occasionally interjected a comment about what I could have done better. I left the second meeting feeling even more disappointed than I was after the first one. Our time together felt more like a transaction. We really hadn't connected with one another on anymore than a superficial level and I still knew nothing more about him and his career path than I had four weeks before."
The truth of the matter was that Jack, although well-positioned and well-intended, had no real understanding about the mentoring process. As a result, he missed the opportunity to develop a meaningful relationship with a high potential future leader in the company.
Lesson learned? Accessibility and good intention are not enough to ensure mentoring success. Leaders need to actively promote mentoring and practice mentoring excellence.
Check out our Mentoring Workshops:Mentoring: Strategies for Success Workshop Boot Camp for Mentors
Not Just Any Mentoring Will Do!
Not all mentoring relationships are equal. It is the powerful combination of experience and expertise, mentoring competence and process knowledge that makes the difference. When mentees and mentors commit to developing their respective roles, they take a large step towards mentoring excellence. They prepare, open themselves to feedback, engage in ongoing reflection and hold themselves accountable for achieving results.
We've developed a series of toolkits to help you keep mentoring excellence at the forefront of your mind. Click here for information: www.centerformentoringexcellence.com/toolkits.php
|What Leaders Can Do to Practice
Become as knowledgeable as you can about current mentoring best practices.
Evaluate your mentoring skills and competencies.
Get feedback from mentees.
Create a mentoring development plan for yourself.
Engage in reverse mentoring; make your mentee your mentor.
Find a mentor for yourself.
Prepare for mentoring meetings.
Keep a mentoring journal.
|What We Are Reading...
The issue has two terrific feature articles on mentoring. The first by Michael Laff looks at the many masks of the gender divide and the challenges mentoring women presents to organizations. The second, Shifting the Shape of Mentoring, speaks to the importance of creating a global mentoring culture.