The art of mentoring

I must confess, I was one of those kids in the Seventies, dreaming of the school gates, yearning for the weekends and long school holidays kicking a ball around the park with my friends.

I don’t think my issue was the lack of a curious mind, I was certainly in my element at any subject that required me to exercise creativity, but the formulaic and disciplined methods of teaching prevalent in my teens supressed my spirit and simply served to fuel my rebellious and incalcitrant nature (traits that I possess to this day!).

In later life, I began to understand that learning was indeed a pleasurable experience, an opportunity to open my mind, challenge my preconceptions, understand and acknowledge the attitudes and perceptions of others, and broaden my views and knowledge base.

Given my haste to leave education as a kid, it is somewhat ironic that I am now engaged professionally as an industry and leadership expert, “teaching”, passing on my experience of working within recruitment for over 40 years, and coaching directors and senior managers to take my know-how and develop their own unique inspirational leadership techniques and skills.

Perhaps the greatest wonder of my reformation from serial detention attendee to “recruitment guru” is that I have derived enormous personal fulfillment from observing my clients, knowing that I have been instrumental in their growth and development.

I believe that as managers we all have an inherent responsibility to pass on our hard-earned knowledge to our colleagues, to dedicate ourselves to their success, helping them to build their confidence and giving them a true sense of purpose, courage and empowerment.

Being a mentor is all about giving of yourself and constructing mutual trust with your mentee, actively listening, adopting a non-judgmental posture, creating a confidential environment and providing counselling, encouragement and direction.

It’s also about being in the moment and placing your own worries and concerns outside the door during the mentoring sessions; being focused and selfless.

The valuable time you dedicate to your mentee is not only about supporting them to fulfill their potential, but also holding them to account, because the changes and strategies that you agree together ultimately need to be owned by them.

So, why is it vitally important to incept a mentoring programme into your business?

We are all very aware of the increasing skills shortages in the recruitment market and the absolute need to create a unique Employer Value Proposition to recruit and retain outstanding staff. We also know that it is not entirely about rewards, benefits and L&D.

It is very much about actively listening to our people and emboldening the right behaviours and attitudes, encouraging open conversation exempt from fear and reprisal, and corporately endorsing good mental wellbeing in the workplace as an accepted imperative.

Mentoring is an essential element of succession planning too of course, preparing and supporting future leaders.

Mentors should be selected for their ability to guide colleagues using their own experiences as relevant reference points (the good and the bad experiences), passing on practical tips and sometimes the bruising life changing lessons that will provide practical techniques to the mentee to achieve appropriate outcomes.

Interestingly, in well-defined and professionally managed programmes mentors also actively receive mentoring, because as an advocate of constant development and received wisdom it is only natural that the “counsellor” in turn will wish to receive monthly support.

In the businesses where I have introduced and conduct mentoring programmes, we have witnessed a marked retention of highly valued staff and there has been a noticeable fast track development of colleagues across a range of roles and seniority.

People feel respected and listened to, and where open communication is an embedded element of the culture, people feel relevant and useful.

When I was the managing director of one of the most well-known recruitment businesses in the UK, with a turnover approaching £200m and over 600 staff, I was fortunate to have a mentor whom I met monthly.

She provided me with a “safe place” to openly discuss my concerns and ambitions, and the opportunity to talk confidentially was for me cathartic and unquestionably a stress-buster.

Through her interventions, I learned how to encourage people to discuss their innermost thoughts and ultimately used those techniques to mentor a wide number of people when I launched LoveWorkLife Consulting several years later.

At a time of huge economic uncertainty, rapidly shifting world orders, and lightning-fast evolving technologies, managing businesses and people has never been more challenging.

When businesses thoroughly engage people in their EVP and demonstrate a very real interest in their peoples’ welfare and careers, they naturally thrive and outperform their competitors and a brilliantly executed mentoring programme in 2018 will represent a significant step to propelling your business forward regardless of the winds of change.

For more information about LoveWorkLife Consulting’s Mentoring Programmes and Leadership and Business Coaching, please contact Paul Jacobs for more information.

Paul Jacobs is the Managing Director of LoveWorkLife Consulting.

Specialist management consultants providing a comprehensive range of expert mentoring, counselling and coaching services to a wide range of recruitment business owners, directors and key stakeholders.

07960 550756 or 020 3145 0600

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