We all know what a mentor is, or we think we do. Google it and you’ll find several definitions, qualifications, circumstances, situations, you name it, where the term “mentor” might be applied. Well since I’m exhorting you to be a mentor, I might as well narrow the field somewhat.
“The only man I know who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew each time he sees me. The rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them.”
~ George Bernard Shaw 1856-1950, Playwright ~
“A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.”
There seems to be quite a bit of overlap when one thinks of mentor, coach, trainer, consultant, counsellor, facilitator, and so on. Here, mentor connotes seniority in some way, either by virtue of position, experience, and/ or age, or by virtue of depth of maturity in life and degree of perspicacity. One may engage a coach, trainer, consultant, counsellor, facilitator, etc., because they have skills which we might need at any given point in time, or even over an extended period of time. However, when we think “mentor”, a picture of sagacity, depth of experience, ability to inspire and generous benevolence come to mind. Mentors may employ the skills of any of the mentioned disciplines in the mentoring process. Also, while there are many definitions of “mentor”, I will retain the connotations of seniority and/ or depth of maturity mentioned earlier. This means that even a young person can be a mentor if that same young person is characterized by maturity beyond his/ her years.
Many organizations have some form of mentoring program in place. Ideally, the mentoring program should have the following:
- The mentor and mentee should not be in the same line of reporting, i.e., the mentor should not be the mentee’s supervisor or even two or three levels up the line. So, a mentee in the Operations Department should ideally be mentored by someone perhaps in the Finance Department.
- There has to be a clear start and end date.
- The mentor and mentee should decide to at least respect each other, whether they feel like it or not.
- Clear benefits to both mentor and mentee must be visualized and agreed upon by both mentor and mentee.
- Clear benefits to the organization must be recognized by both mentor and mentee.
Both mentor and mentee must decide that the mentoring program being embarked upon is not a vent for frustrations which they might have in their own departments. If these are agreed upon beforehand, then the mentoring program is off to a good start.
Young persons can also be mentors if they are perceived to be people of great maturity and possess wisdom beyond their years. Again, there are great benefits to be reaped by both the young mentor and whosoever he or she is mentoring. In some cases, the mentee could even be a person who is chronologically older.
So, regardless of race, language or religion, and, may I add, age or gender, consider if you have what it takes to be a mentor. If yes, who, what, where, when, why and how? If not, would you like to get yourself a mentor? Either way, what are you going to do?
Contact me for a discussion now!