Wednesday, May 21, 2008

MENTORING - not for everyone

It all started in the 19th century when a Greek warrior named Odysseus went to war and left his son Telemachus with a man named Mentor to get guidance and education from him. Mentor was a person of trust, responsible and intelligent who acted as an advisor and guru. Among the popular mentor-mentee are Socrates-Plato, Plato-Aristotle, Aristotle-AlexanderTheGreat, … and in our local scenario MNasir-Mawi !

A mentoring program develops and protects your most valuable asset, your people. Compared to physical and financial assets, exceptional people are harder to replace. Mentoring promotes cohesion between the senior and junior personnel, thus ensuring company solidarity at all levels.

Perhaps one of the biggest values in mentoring is the transfer of tacit knowledge which cannot be written or stored. Mentoring is the only vehicle in which the experience and knowledge in the heart and mind of a senior manager can be passed to the junior manager effectively. It is a way of keeping alive the invaluable spirit and style of work, even after the flag bearers retire.

Mentors impart not only knowledge but a sense of care and guardianship toward their mentees. The one-on-one time and guidance given to mentees ensure that talented employees get the attention they deserve and are groomed, promoting a feeling of security in the ranks. High performing mentees will see that they are progressing in the right direction and sense real personal growth in the company, resulting in low turn over of high performers.

A good mentoring program must have an organized process of selecting individuals who should be mentored. Some examples of people who should be mentored (or you risk losing them) are :

  • employees with the potential to support strategic company goals
  • employees with specialized technical know-how
  • career oriented individuals
  • personnel with a sense of ownership towards tasks
  • high energy talented individuals who are on a fast track and can take more responsibilities.

A good mentor can channel the mentees’ energies, talent and time towards learning new skills and experiences, and see that their needs are fulfilled.

Individuals who lack ambition and energy should not be mentored. However, pay close attention to people who have potential but do not seem to fit, individuals who “are not like the rest of us.” This is usually true of minorities whether ethnic, social or psychological. Individuals who do not easily fit in can feel out of the loop.

Talented valuable individuals can be identified and groomed to bloom through a mentoring program, irregardless of whether he or she seems like everyone else. Implementing a planned mentoring program while taking these factors into account can pave the way to success.

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