Being One and Simply Being
Working is Hard Work. And that statement is an understatement!
We can probably all remember back to when we got our first ‘big job’. How excited we were! Someone actually saw something special in us that they were willing to take a chance on hiring a real rookie to if something positive could happen.
So we get started as a ‘super achiever wannabee’ and jump right into the water with our shoes still on, ready for that first big assignment. No matter what it is, we are going to do it better than anyone ever could or even think about doing it. Yep, we are going to win the ‘employee of the year’ or ‘salesperson of the year’ award coming right up, no doubt about it! All is good and life just couldn’t be any better.
Then reality hits. We get that first big assignment or specific responsibility that we were just dying to get started on, and we figure out very quickly that we have no idea where to begin. That terrified feeling lands straight in our gut, our blood pressure rises, and we close our eyes and try to figure out how we got ourselves into this situation. What the heck do we do next and where do we turn for help? Can’t go to the boss – nope, they took a chance on us so can’t admit to them that we clearly don’t have all of the answers as we said we did. Somehow that sense of confidence and cockiness has just completely turned into doubt and despair.
Ever been there? I have … many times as a matter of fact. I started my career in the late 1980’s in the furniture industry that was completely dominated by men in all positions of authority. So, here I was, a woman and very young – much younger than anyone else I worked with. I had nowhere to turn for help, advice and counseling on how to be better and more confident in what I was doing, or even just a voice of encouragement and reassurance that I actually was smart enough to actually qualify for the job I was given. Looking back at that time in my life I would have loved to have heard what the ‘good ole boys’ said about me then. I’m fairly certain I can guess exactly what it was almost verbatim, and most likely it wasn’t anything good.
I took the tough road for about 10 years, doing it on my own and hoping my decisions and actions were the right ones for the company I worked for, even when I was less than sure they were. Then, someone stepped into my life and changed all of that. He became my mentor by chance, even before I ever knew what a mentor really was. My road became easier, the risks I took didn’t seem so insurmountable and the journey forward was exciting – even at times a lot of fun! Funny how a little confidence and reassurance can make such a difference.
So what does all of that mean? For me it means I have dedicated my life to be a mentor to anyone who asks this of me. I believe we have an obligation to give back to those who need some help and guidance along the way. In all of our lives there comes a time when the path is not clear. And the ground we walk on is uncertain. The best way to succeed is to do what you do alongside a mentor.
So how do we best do that? We do it by creating a structured mentoring program in every single company that follows these important three areas outlined below. The single most important asset to any company is the team that is in place. There should be a clear priority placed on their care and feeding so that they feel empowered, engaged and equipped for success.
Every company needs to get new team members off to a successful start. Retention is one of the most important factors in a company’s path to growth and success, so investing in new hires is of critical importance. The best way to do this is to employ a ‘buddy system’ by teaming up the new hire with someone more experienced within the same area or division. This mentor provides guidance, feedback and one-on-one counseling at a regularly scheduled time on an on-going basis. The new team member integrates into the culture faster, meets other people within the company to allow them to create those important at-work relationships, and allows them to feel a part of the larger team and purpose much faster. Even better, it gives the mentor a unique role and opportunity to give back to others what they have experienced and learned during their tenure. A win-win for everyone involved!
Career Development Mentoring:
Everyone wants to know what lies ahead for them from a career perspective. This program assigns each employee a specific person to serve as a counselor to them. Structure and guidelines are offered and outlined so that responsibilities and commitment from both parties are clear and understood. This will allow a nice path for team members to train and gain experience for future leadership roles and career advancement for those who are interested. This is a perfect pathway to prepare future leaders for executive roles while creating a very nice succession plan which is critical to the future success and long-term viability of any company. While this should generally be viewed as an optional program, all-star leaders should be automatically selected by the leadership to participate as mentors.
This might be one of the best options ever created – it is a backwards twist on the traditional process of mentoring. With technology advancing as quickly as it is now, why not take advantage of the Generations X and Y and the Millennials, who have grown up in this new and advanced age of social media and other online applications, to help the rest of the company advance? And, it gives the younger team members an important way to contribute their knowledge and comfort of a very challenging area for a much greater purpose. Plus, what great visibility they get from others in the company, including the executive team for opportunities that could become available to them in the future.
The concept of Mentoring is really very simple. Mentors guide you, they push you and they give you things to always think about and consider.
And, that is why I choose to be one.
If you think you are too old to need a mentor, you are sadly mistaken.
So, if you aren’t currently a mentor – be one.
If you don’t have a mentor – get one.
I don’t believe my greatest accomplishment in life will be measured by what positions I have held or what titles I have. I do believe it will be based on how many lives I positively touch – how I parent my children, the example I set in all I do and those I coach to be better. To me, that is the purest definition and importance of mentoring.
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