Need A Mentor? Ask!

Wednesday, July 6 2011

In our last sales article I related the story of Frank’s $10 million mistake. He didn’t get fired; justified, according to the company president, by the fact that they had just spent a lot of money on Frank’s education!

This would be a perfect time to introduce a mentoring program.

Frank has arrived at a teachable moment. He’s screwed up and is coming to terms with the impact of a costly error on the company and his career. When he finds out he isn’t going to be terminated his relief is palpable, and he is open to any suggestion from the president that will enable him to make it up to the company.

Some mentoring relationships will evolve naturally, as individuals are drawn to one another, each filling a need; one to mentor, share experience and wisdom with a junior, while the other is hungry to learn, gain insights and grow. Other mentoring relationships will be created by the impetus of a teachable moment when it becomes clear that the organization as well as the individuals will benefit from such an arrangement.

Successful mentoring outcomes are achieved over time. Mentors grow to trust that their mentees are worth the effort, individuals of potential who respect the advice and experience that they share. Mentees learn to trust that they are receiving the real experience, not something that’s been imagined or garnered from a textbook. Mentoring trust is built on respect, honesty, credibility, integrity, and transparency.

Over the years, I’ve benefited from the wisdom of many teachers; but these influential individuals were not true mentors. Most of them were completely unaware of our “relationship”. I learned from their experience and insight through their writings, their audio recordings, and their training videos. I was hungry to understand my chosen field so seized every opportunity to study the masters. How much further ahead would I be if those relationships had been two-sided? The personalized advice, probing questions and ‘just in time’ nature of a genuine mentoring relationship would have been even more valuable. Looking back, I should have been more active in my search for such an arrangement.

As you progress in your career, be alert for those individuals who have demonstrated excellence. Would they be open to a mentoring relationship? Ask. Your request will be a complement and if they agree, this could start a relationship that will have tremendous benefits to you and your organization.