Investing in the Future- Mentoring success
Recently I was in Home Depot browsing the tool department admiring the latest offerings from Makita, Dewalt and Milwaukie. I was not alone as other guys were doing the same thing with a healthy amount of “networking” going on at the same time.
As I was standing beside the impact drivers I happened to overhear the two guys talking beside me. One guy was super animated. Looking to be in his late 40s, he was visibly excited and speaking loudly. I couldn’t help overhearing parts of their conversation. When he mentioned the word “mentoring” I stopped squeezing the drivers trigger and politely asked if I could join their conversation. “I work with mentor’s” I said, “I couldn’t help overhearing you speaking about being a mentor.”
The guy’s buddy interjected and said, “ My friend here has helped lots of young workers. He was telling me about a young guy that we both knew. The young guy was a bit of a misfit. Didn’t really fit in. Could barely nail two pieces of wood together. Now Bob here has told me that this young guy is running his own crew- never would have thought he could do that-amazing really”
The mentor, Bob, added that the young guy had phoned him out of the blue and thanked him for helping him get his life together. “He told me that I changed his life, he now has a family and a successful business. He told me that he owes it all to me and my lessons and if there is anything that he could do for me. He was super thankful. I told him that it was him- always saw his potential.” Bob beamed at me. Bob’s friend smiled too. The pride that Bob had was visible.
We often speak of the benefits of being mentored. We talk of how the mentees gain knowledge and wisdom from their mentors. We speak of succession planning and knowledge transfer.
Often what we miss however is the benefit to the mentors. Strong mentors often relate to having a feeling of fulfillment, confidence and achievement connected to a successful mentorship. Mentors obtain a sense of pride knowing that they have made a positive difference. When this success is coupled with the recognition and support of an organization the benefits are tangible.
With many experienced or mature workers the overall job satisfaction can diminish with time. The knowledge that the job tasks are complete does not hold the same satisfaction that it did when we were learning new skills and developing mastery. I often hear the experienced workers talking about becoming a teacher or instructor.
They have this vast store of knowledge, this vat of wisdom locked away without a table to place it on and unable to share. The legacy of their mentors and teachers and the promise to them to pay it forward remains unrealized unless the opportunity to share is available.
Often when we mentor new and young workers we don’t get to see the fruits of our labour immediately Sometimes if we are fortunate, like Bob, we will hear back from our mentees. Hear about their success and their future.
Have you ever had someone tell you that they have grown from knowing you? Have you ever been a coach, friend or mentor to someone and had them contact you later and express their gratitude? Maybe you have had an influencer and mentor in your life- someone who made a difference. If you could contact them today what would you say to them? What techniques did they use to help you and are they similar to the methods in use today?
Potential mentors can have the skill and knowledge but not the teaching knowhow.
To bring out the best in your trainers it is important to realize that they may need some further mentoring. Instead of just matching an experienced and less experienced worker together it is important to keep the goal in mind- the why behind the mentoring.
Investing in a mentor and their wisdom creates a multi tiered impact. The mentor feels validated- we have recognized his or her contribution. The organization can celebrate in the success and the less established workers can see that the company really does invest in the future- giving hope and goals for the next generation.
Your mentors can use the skill of facilitators, mentor trainers and professional development to help tease the knowledge from them out towards your new and young workers. The investment in the mentors plays out with increased job satisfaction, employee engagement and reduced turnover.
Strong mentorship will help the business to benefit and prosper. The wisdom passed on today becomes a legacy for the future generation of young workers.