Working Capital - Mission Blog

<<Mission Blog Home Posted: 01-13-2017

Left: Martin Luther King Jr. Stamp. Right: Two men sitting on a couch. One giving instruction to the other.

Martin Luther King Day is a “day off” for many of us in the DC area. It is a day of big sales and catching up on errands. It is also a day of service designed to honor the life and teachings of Dr. King and transform them into community service that helps empower and strengthen local communities. We have touched on volunteering and community service in a previous post.

This year we decided to take a different track and focus on a more individualized form of service – mentoring since it’s also National Mentoring Month.

No matter where you are in your career you have been helped and guided along the way by a mentor. Someone you trusted. Someone you learned from. Someone you will never forget.

I had a boss early on in my broadcasting career that took the time to invite me into his office and engage in “what if” conversations. Sometimes these lasted for only a few minutes but they allowed me to grow and take on more responsibilities as time wore on. I’ve applied many of those lessons as I moved up the career ladder and ended up passing them along to other “mentees” along the way.

Most companies do a fine job of training their employees. Online tutorials for systems, HR, etc. help you become part of the company culture. However, there are intangible lessons to be learned that can only be had through one-on-one mentoring. This is a process whereby someone with greater knowledge and experience helps someone that can benefit from that knowledge.

On this MLK Day, take stock of where you are. Look around and seek out those who could benefit from your knowledge and experience. And – share it.

With that in mind, here are a few tips on developing a mentoring relationship we have culled from around the web:

  • Be Open to Any Relationship.
    You can never be sure where you’ll find the likely candidate.
  • Be Committed.
    Once you begin this journey you must see it through to its conclusion.
  • Take a Genuine Interest in the Person You are Mentoring.
    You want them to grow within the confines of the organization but you also want them to grow as a human being as well.
  • Know When NOT to Give Advice.
    It’s easy to coach every step of the way, but sometimes the best advice is to just…
  • Listen.
    While you have a lot of knowledge and experience to impart, the process is about them, not you. Sharing experiences is a good thing but not hearing the other side of the equation makes the relationship a one way street.
  • Be Honest…
    Especially about mistakes you have made along the way. Everyone makes mistakes. One of the keys to success is to not make the same ones twice.
  • Celebrate Their Achievements.
    Positive feedback is proven to be more effective than negative. Don’t ignore them when they stumble but be sure to applaud their victories.
  • Finally, Be a Role Model.
    My Dad always used to say to me (jokingly): “Don’t do as I do, do as I say.” I loved my Dad and knew he was messing with me. This is not a great philosophy for a mentor. Your protégé will read non-verbal signals just as easily as the verbal ones.

Most mentoring relationships begin organically. But you can still accelerate the process by being open to creating the relationship.

How have mentors helped you along the way? What advice would you give to a mentor (or mentee)?
Leave a comment below…

Working Capital, Goodwill mission blog author
This article was written by: Steve Allan

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