Welcome to the third installment of guest blogger, Gregg Patterson’s, Management Journey series. This month Gregg shares his thoughts on the positive impact of mentoring on both Mentee & Mentor, the attributes of a good mentor and how to go about developing this relationship.
Enjoy the read!
Searching for Mentor
by Gregg Pattterson
Here in the States, people are yapping (lots!) about mentoring. I’m Big Sam’s career mentor, Big Sam is my career mentor,I’m looking for a Big Sam type to mentor me during my journey from Minion to Big Cheese. Lots of talk about ‘doing mentor’ or ‘being mentored’. Lots of touchy-feely. Lots of hot air and vapour.
Mentoring is needed for Mentors and Mentees. Questions need to be asked, and answered.
If you want to be an informed consumer of the Mentor-Mentee Experience and if you want to avoid wasting time on worthless Mentees or bombastic, puffed up Ain’t Got the Goods Mentors, then you’d better start asking a few Mentor / Mentee questions. So, Mentors and Mentees, consider these questions and answers:
What’s a mentor?
A mentor is an experienced, thoughtful someone you turn to for advice and insight before making a decision.
Why does an already successful upwardly mobile young professional need a mentor?
Mentees need someone who’s done the Beta Testing, who’s screwed up and learned, who can help them understand what they’re experiencing, can help them anticipate what they’ll someday encounter and can provide insights into decisions that need to be made.
What’s the difference between a coach and a mentor?
A coach is skills focused, observes your doing and tells you WHAT to do in a given situation- whereas a mentor gives advice and insight and lets YOU make the decision.
Why do you need a mentor when you’ve got good friends?
Good friends are a critical part of the Mentoring Network. Great friends can be great mentors but are sometimes too close to the Mentee to provide the type of objectivity that good mentoring sometimes requires.
When should an Up-and-Coming Industry Professional initiate a Mentor-Mentee relationship?
When there are problems to be solved.
Why would a busy manager want to mentor?
Mentors mentor because it’s fun to sit and ponder The Big Issues of life. Mentors mentor because it’s an opportunity to go deep into the business, to reflect on what’s been done, to see The Big Stuff in the day-to-day. Bottom line- Mentors mentor because it gives them The Buzz.
What role does the Mentor have in initiating a Mentor-Mentee relationship?
Beyond showing an interest in and an openness to the up-and-coming professional-none! Mentors are responders, responding to Mentee questions. The Mentee is responsible for reaching out to the Mentor. Mentees either want mentoring and do the reach or don’t.
How does a Mentee convince a target mentor to be his or her mentor?
Mentees need only reach out and connect with a comment or a question. The Mentor’s response will signal their yes or no to The Reach.
What attributes does a Mentee need to do Mentee right?
Great Mentees need to have:
- The Buzz for the Business.
- A compelling curiosity.
- A stimulating personality- endlessly funny, positive, upbeat, inquisitive and interesting.
- A fluency in and a curiosity about the mentor’s Big Issues -and a readiness to discuss any and all whenever needed.
- A passionate Deep Generalist mindset—a broad spectrum curiosity about every facet of life and of business.
What attributes does a mentor need to do mentor right?
- Accessibility- in person, by phone or via The Net.
- Experience- of both success and failure.
- Reflectivity- goes deep into the principles and practices experienced during success and failure.
- A high likeability factor- that is, a personality that mentees want to be around.
- Endless curiosity- about the who, how, why, when of everything around them.
- Well-developed facilitation skills- curious, asks questions, expands on answers, asks more questions.
- A track record of doing and then thinking deep about what they’ve done, why they’ve done it and how what they did got done right or wrong.
- Experienced Parable-izer- able to weave a good tale from most anything that happens, to see the profound in the ordinary, philosophy in the details of the day-to-day life stories.
What’s the best location for mentoring?
Wherever you are: Sitting. Walking. Running. Biking. Between sets on the tennis court. In the bar. At the dinner table.
What’s meant by fast mentoring and slow mentoring?
Fast mentoring is on the run, results driven, when something needs to be done quickly, when I need to make a decision-now. Slow mentoring is over caffeine with lots of conversation, wandering and yapping and exploring without an agenda or end game.
What are unstructured and structured mentoring?
Structured mentoring is outlined in advance—I don’t want to waste your time. This is the issue. I need advice. Unstructured is impromptu, organic, without an agenda, during part of the walk and talk or over caffeine in the staff dining room.
Some say that Upwardly Mobile Professionals have hundreds of mentors along the way. Others insist that The Upwardly Mobile select one Life Mentor to guide the way. Who’s right?
Everyone has lots of mentors, a network of mentors, who’ve given advice and insight before decisions are made.
However, some Mentees have been blessed with a true Turn-To-For-Most-Things Mentor- that is, a long-term someone who loves to go deep in the business, reflect on The Journey and yap endlessly about The Good, The Bad and This Will Probably Happen. The lucky ones call these Mentors husband or wife!
How does a Mentee know that someone is the right mentor for them?
A Mentee knows the Mentor’s right when they instinctively turn to him or her for advice and insight without consciously asking who should I turn to?
How important is it for a Mentee to select a job based on the mentoring possibilities of the job?
Critical-having a boss whos both coach and mentor is invaluable. Mentors enrich the job experience. They speed the journey. The young should always choose Mentor over Title, Talk over Position.
Are occasional off-site mentoring opportunities critical to the mentoring relationship?
Yes- because everyone needs to escape from the conventional and the routine if they’re going to think differently about the conventional and the routine.
What role does mentoring play in building community?
A mentor rich environment welds people together through shared stories and discussion. People gain insight from others- and are indebted to those others for the insights given. Great communities are built collaboratively one decision at a time. And mentoring is at the core of the decision-making process.
Can Mentoring actually lengthen the Mentor’s career?
Absolutely! Mentoring is a stimulant. It forces the Mentor to look deeper at The day-to-day madness, takes the Mentor outside of the routine and the ordinary, connects the Mentor with interesting people who are eager to discuss interesting issues. Mentoring is a stimulant and makes one’s career lots more than it’d otherwise be.
Why would an old hand become a Mentor once they’re out of the business, retired, and into their twilight years?
Old hands have lived lots, experienced lots, done lots, failed lots, succeeded lots and like nothing more than looking back on those experiences to uncover the whys and the hows. Mentees give them the opportunity to ponder The Great Issues that were embedded in experience. Mentoring enlarges their life. Forces reflection. Makes them feel needed and wanted by those who are on the way up.
Glorious stuff both doing Mentor and being Mentored!
Enlarge The Journey
Mentees need Mentors to enlarge and to stimulate The Journey.
Mentors need Mentees to enlarge and to stimulate The Journey.
Start searching for Mentors.
Adopt a Mentee.
Answer the questions.
And enjoy the journey!