Help the Next Generation Succeed Through Mentoring

What does mentorship look like?

Mentorship means having senior people in an organization who are not only willing to offer advice to less experienced staff members, but who are willing to go further by taking them under their wings. Mentors offer guidance and advice to mentees on how they can be more successful – both personally and professionally.


How do you know someone needs mentoring?

People will rarely come up and ask you to be a mentor. You need to be proactive and get in front of and support people who look like they could become shining stars in your organization. Think about what it was like when you were in their shoes and what other people did to help you.  It is now your job to help get junior staff members to the next level.


It goes without saying managers in Lehigh Valley businesses, especially small to mid-sized businesses, are busy trying to service clients and build their businesses. It is easy to ask who has time to mentor junior colleagues? You have to take time, though, to help a mentee get invested in your company and its future. Mentoring and coaching become a really important piece of the equation.


Should mentorship be an organic process, or should there be planned events and sessions?

Choose a hybrid solution. Company outings and other types of events for team building purposes are wonderful. Getting behind a fund raising activity or doing something in the community is a great thing to do. It adds value to your company, community and staff members.


Helping somebody who is in need, though, should also occur on an ad hoc basis. Put that person beneath your wing and say I want to help you excel in our company and in your life.  How you help will vary. It could be help interfacing with clients, assisting with workflow around a particular process or balancing the work/life equation successfully.  Let the mentee take the lead, while the mentor oversees the process by offering guidance.


We typically don’t learn on your own. We learn from experiences.  Many things aren’t intuitive. Experienced based mentorship has to exist throughout the organization, to build the next generation of leaders.


Should you mentor people who are in trouble? Or do you only mentor those individuals who look like they can be stars?

You mentor both. There are people in your organization who could be better than they are. They will build a career with your company if a little more interaction or care is applied to them. Figure out how to best utilize or leverage each person’s skillset or personality to your organization’s advantage.


Some people leave companies because they don’t appear to fit the company mold. However, they may offer great value to your company. With coaching and mentoring the outcome could be different.


Where is the fine line between mentoring and lecturing?

Sometimes you should remove your supervisor hat. Leave the office environment when you are trying to give advice or guidance, so it doesn’t come off as a reprimand for doing something wrong. Make it more constructive. Sit outside. Go for a walk. Take a car ride to get lunch. Pull the mentee out of the day-to-day grind to think through what is happening in his or her career and life, while giving guidance that is useful.


It can be difficult for someone to take constructive criticism when you are in the moment.  However, offering constructive criticism and a different point of view isn’t a bad thing. It ultimately helps the mentee grow and improve his or her overall performance – at work and personally.


What advice do you have for millennial leaders who are coaching and mentoring employees from a different generation?

Having face-to-face time is very important. Millenials have learned to live and breathe technology. Verbal and voice communications in office settings have been reduced. A lot of face-to-face interaction is being put aside when it should be front and center.


When it comes to learning or experiencing something, face-to-face interaction will resonate with the mentee. It creates a bond, friendships and long lasting relationships. Having those kinds of connections leads to a better work environment.


Final thoughts.

Many business leaders in the Lehigh Valley need to take a step back and figure out how they are going to leverage, motivate and retain employees.  We want them to see their work life as being more than a job but a career.


Think about what works inside your organization before offering advice and guidance. Don’t forget about venting sessions. These venting sessions will do more than help employees who wish to complain about how they had a bad day. It will help staff connect with leaders in your organization. It will help them to do a better job, as they will feel they have a voice at the table.  They will appreciate knowing management is listening.


Listening and being able to communicate are paramount for success in your Lehigh Valley business. Any organization that is not thinking of mentoring or career related coaching for staff should begin to do so. It will reduce attrition and create a happier workplace environment.


Michael Lamm is a managing partner at Corporate Advisory Solutions, a merchant bank headquartered in Philadelphia and serving Lehigh Valley businesses. He can be reached at mlamm@corpadvisorysolutions.com or 202-904-7192.


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