We look under the covers of an organization to determine are they mentor ready or not. We get asked if that is an essential thing that must be done and typically the answer would be “Yes!” One of the reasons that mentoring struggles and sometimes fails in an organization is that the current culture will not support mentoring. What ends up taking place then is that mentoring loses its credibility in the organization and people do not wish to participate in anything mentor related. Performing that culture assessment to determine mentor readiness is a good thing. It is time well spent.
One of the areas that is looked at is the organization’s leadership development program. This would also be categorized as being part of the succession planning/succession development process. Interestingly enough a lot of organizations do some form of succession planning but very few do anything to develop the successors. We scramble at the last moment and then finally push them into the deep end of the pool and encourage them to swim. There is nothing like setting someone up for failure to enhance an organizational culture.
We do need to do something to develop current and future leaders. We have a global leadership talent shortage and yet we seem to wander aimlessly along settling into a world of complacency. We hope that someone will take care of this challenge but I can assure you such is not the case. I have seen and have been involved in situations where we have leveraged the power of mentoring to assist in the development of current leaders and future leaders. We did that culture assessment and we did implement mentoring at various levels in the organization and we did see change taking place. Change for the betterment of all concerned.
Mentoring is all about relationships – trusted relationships. Mentoring is all about effective communication. Are you listening and hearing what is being said. Are you preparing yourself for those conversations by visualizing them taking place prior to them happening so that you have some sense of what your responses may be? Your responses will be framed in the context of questions in order to help develop the critical thinking skills so badly needed in today’s work force. Mentoring is about being humble and realizing that the relationship that you are in is a two way reciprocal relationship where we both are going to learn and develop personally and professionally. We are also going to make mistakes and that is okay – that is how we learn and we will learn together. Mentoring is about inspiring each other to be the best that we can be.
When you take a look at the characteristics of a good leader you will find that they are very similar to the ones that I have listed about. The list is not all inclusive by any stretch but I wanted to give you a sense of why mentoring is an important part of any leadership development program that you may have. Is it okay to spend a large sum of money to train someone on how to become a leader if we don’t provide them the support after the formal training? I have worked with a number of new leaders that were crying for help, for someone to guide them as they begin their journey as a leader. Someone to ask the question at the end of the day – “is there a way that we could have done that differently?” “What would happen if we were to have done this, or perhaps this?” I have heard stories from employees about the unskilled managers, supervisors and leaders that they have in their organization. Their organization is now a culture riddled with negativity. Managers, supervisors and leaders have created a culture where catching someone doing something wrong so they can discipline is the norm. Employees are never encouraged to do well, they are never acknowledged when they do something well. The good employees will leave an organization like this because they can! High turnover rates usually are indicative of low productivity.
Take the time to invest in your people. Take the time to invest in your current and future leaders. It is time and money well spent. Take the time to embrace the power of mentoring and create that positive culture and a learning and development environment.