We can thank the ancient Greeks for one of the most common career buzzwords--mentor.
Mentor was a friend of the fabled adventurer and hero Odysseus, entrusted with the education of his son. Today, a mentor in the workplace is a role model, teacher and coach, helping a protege navigate the twists and turns of their own career journey.
In recognition of the benefits of mentoring, companies are not only encouraging such relationships, but structuring formal programs to nurture them.
Mentoring has been shown to improve job satisfaction and retention of new employees, and accelerate their productivity in the first months and years on the job. For more seasoned employees, mentoring continues to improve productivity and performance, helps to achieve diversity in the management ranks and maximizes the potential of future leaders.
Whether relationships between mentor and protege develop informally or formally, successful partnerships have common characteristics.
The relationship is protege-driven. Even in an informal, non-structured relationship, the protege must take the initiative. This often begins with the simple gesture of seeking advice from someone he or she respects and identifies within the organization--whether a direct supervisor or not. To sustain the relationship, the protege must take responsibility for managing the relationship with the mentor, while assuming ownership of his or her own career development.
What distinguishes a mentor-protege relationship from a simple workplace friendship is a goal-oriented alliance. The protege should develop and communicate his or her career strategy, with both short and long-term goals, and actively enlist the help of the mentor. Where proteges lead, mentors will follow.
An appropriate mentor usually is a person familiar with the skills and knowledge required in the protege's functional area, if not the specific job. Attitude is equally important in a mentor. He or she should have a balanced, positive outlook toward work and life in general, and demonstrate equitable inclusion of all employees--regardless of gender, race or age.
While good mentors often are at "the top of their game," they are not threatened by the success of others. They are willing to take the time to cultivate and develop talent, listen to concerns, and provide honest feedback and guidance. They are receptive to participating in training programs and tapping career development resources offered by the company on behalf of their protege.
Like any human relationship, it's not uncommon for a mentor-protege relationship to have its ups and downs, or to slowly wither from lack of attention. Deliberate efforts to revitalize the relationship might include scheduling regular quarterly meetings between mentor and protege, and annual evaluations or assessments by both. As the protege works his or her way up a career ladder, the role of the mentor and the needs of the protege may change. The advice needed to transition and acclimate to a new job or company is very different from that needed to consider and navigate a mid-career move.
A mentor should empower the protege to take risks, and support the protege through successes and failures. Both partners need to acknowledge if they have outgrown each other, and when an additional or different mentor may be required.
Ideally, the mentor can help the protege to network with potential new mentors. For those individuals pursuing a management position, the perspective of an individual with multi-divisional or multi-functional experience may be beneficial as a leadership mentor.
Ideally, well-mentored proteges become future mentors, and the cycle continues.
Source: Chicago Tribune
Posted by Maye Rosales on 1st March 2017