February 25, 2012

The Journey to a Mentoring Culture!

Doug Lawrence

It has been interesting so far to see how organizations are responding to establishing a mentoring culture. I do believe that some see the value in embracing this and are working hard at moving towards that goal. They see that having a culture where mentoring prevails, employees are engaged, empowered and accountable provides them with the business value they need in order to begin the journey.

The journey is not an easy one, but it is most definitely worth the effort. Once you have the culture in place you need to support and maintain it – so that requires some effort on your part as well. It is like anything else, if it is worth implementing then it should be worth supporting and maintaining it.

We don’t see to realize the challenges that we have internally until we begin this journey. It is very interesting to see the reactions of leaders when they realize that things have been percolating for quite a period of time and they were oblivious to it all. The “water cooler” talk and the negativity has been running rapid throughout the organization and employees have reached a point where if things don’t improve they are moving on to a better organization. I take my hat off to those leaders that have recognized that there are challenges and they have started on the journey to create a mentoring culture.

We sometimes don’t realize the effect that negativity can have on our employees. All that it takes is for a few to be infected with negativity and then it will begin to spread throughout the entire organization. Those that permeate positive energy soon find that it is harder and harder to hang on to that energy as they are engulfed in all the negativity around them. It becomes easier to get swallowed up in the negativity rather than to push back. You become unhappy in the workplace; you take this unwelcomed state of mind home with you and begin to spread the negativity throughout your home life and those that you cherish. You become stressed over just having to get up in the morning to go to work. Your health begins to suffer – you may turn to alcohol as a crutch – but that only makes things worse. Your interaction with your work colleagues and eventually the people that you serve – your clients/customers becomes abrasive and negative. Your clients/customers begin to wonder if this is an indication of the organization as a whole and its ability to provide them the service that they want!

So when you look in the mirror each morning before you go to work, do you see any of this? Are you open and honest enough to realize the signs or symptoms that you are more than likely displaying? Does your family see the change in you that has taken place and are worried but afraid to say anything to you?

You and your organization need to reach out for help and look at the business value of implementing a mentoring culture. I work with organizations today that have recognized that their employees are important to them and that they do indeed have some of these very same challenges. They are beginning the journey. We have had forward movement in all of them and we have experienced a slide backwards in some which has required some reinforcing of the need to make this culture a way of life. The tools are transferable from the work place to your personal life – including the home front!

Think of what it is like to have an engaged, empowered and accountable workforce. Job seekers are looking for the organization that can provide them with the culture that they need to grow personally and professionally. It is through a mentoring culture that we can provide that culture they are seeking and increase our retention of those talented employees. Remember that the good employees are always the ones that will leave!

It is a journey worth taking and it does take some work. Embrace the concept of a mentoring culture and begin that journey – you will be glad that you did. How powerful will it be to have in your next job advertisement, “we support and maintain a mentoring culture?”

All of this can be accomplished through the “power of mentoring.”



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