Mentoring: Overrated or Underutilized?
Personality, past experiences and unshared expectations have a lot to do with how potential mentors and mentees relate to both each other and the process. For those who find it rewarding, being shadowed and giving advice feels like a great way to foster talent within an organization. And it is. So how can mentoring be made more palatable and effective for managers and executives who aren’t natural gurus or who have been unhappy with the process in the past?
Great information on this topic recently hit the Internet in a blog article posted over at Harvard Business Review by Whitney Johnson and Bob Moesta entitled “Get the Mentoring Equation Right”. In the article, the authors not only outline excellent points about what both parties should expect and put into the mentoring relationship, they actually have a put the matter into a formula to help determine the chances of success between two individuals. Here it is:
The mentee side of the equation describes: How badly does the mentee want to advance his/her career and how much ground do they feel they need to cover to get there?
Drive = How motivated is the mentee?
Distance = Where is the mentee in terms of experience vs. where they need/want to be?
The mentor side asks: Can I help and how much effort will it require?
Gap = The amount of experience the mentor has compared with the mentee.
Relevance = The distance between the mentor’s expertise and the mentee’s goal.
Effort = How much work it will take to bridge any gaps of experience or relevance.
The authors detail how these various elements are gauged and how to use them to everyone’s advantage and mutual satisfaction, with an understandable emphasis on examining the level of drive in your prospective mentee. Of course, a good mentoring relationship is a lot more complicated than a simple algebra problem, but even if you don’t consider yourself the “warm and fuzzy” type, you and your company could stand to gain a lot from your involvement in the right arrangement. That’s because the give and take of knowledge and ideas can benefit everyone. You might just end up with a strong network of successful former mentees who are grateful and available to you well beyond the time that they spent as your underlings, not to mention the satisfaction of helping new talent learn valuable things about the business and industry into which you have invested so much of yourself. A positive mentoring experience can also create strong loyalty in employees as well.