We know that most people leave leaders, not companies. We also know that great performers most often join leaders, not companies. Our company’s most valued and core asset is our people. We try to move forward, intentionally, developing this asset.
Over two years ago, we formalized Mentoring program at SIGMA Marketing Group. I am proud of what both the Mentor and Mentee feedback has been regarding the program, the relationships formed, and the mutual benefit that this program has fostered and facilitated.
A bit of a history test, do you know where the word "mentor" comes from?
Homer: men·tor (men´tôr´, -ter) noun
1. A wise and trusted counselor or teacher.
2. Mentor. Greek Mythology. Odysseus's trusted counselor, under whose disguise Athena became the guardian and teacher of Telemachus.
The word mentor is an example of the way in which the great works of literature live on without our knowing it. The word has recently gained currency in the professional world, where it is thought to be a good idea to have a mentor, a wise and trusted counselor, guiding one's career, preferably in the upper reaches of the organization. We owe this word to the more heroic age of Homer, in whose Odyssey Mentor is the trusted friend of Odysseus left in charge of the household during Odysseus's absence. More important for our usage of the word mentor, Athena disguised as Mentor guides Odysseus's son Telemachus in his search for his father. Fénelon in his romance Télémaque (1699) emphasized Mentor as a character, and so it was that in French (1749) and English (1750) mentor, going back through Latin to a Greek name, became a common noun meaning “wise counselor,” first recorded in 1750. Mentor is an appropriate name for such a person because it probably meant “adviser” in Greek and comes from the Indo-European root men-1, meaning “to think.”
Definition and word history from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition copyright © 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Electronic version licensed from INSO Corporation. All rights reserved.
What are the objectives of having a formalized Mentoring Program?
- Retention and engagement
- Succession Plan – Creation of a talent pool
- Development of professional relationships
- Create culture of continuous learning
- Individual development
- Knowledge transfer
- Career growth and development
- Cultivate individual career planning and ownership
- Mentor to gain better perspective of individual/organizational issues
In order for a Mentoring program to be successful, it must be voluntary for both parties. A successful Mentoring program is based on encouragement, constructive comments, openness, mutual trust, respect and a true willingness to learn and to share. There is a time commitment and the dedication and follow through on this is indicative of the results. What you put in is what you get out. The Mentee needs to drive the Mentoring program and take responsibility for setting up the meetings.
We use a very focused Mentee questionnaire to help identify areas for short-term, medium-term and long-term action planning. The process allows the Mentee to begin with the end in mind – their personal vision, high-level goals, end-of-year achievements. The Mentee then clarifies his or her starting position by providing a current assessment of skills, knowledge, competencies and self-evaluation. The gap is closed by connecting the dots between the goals and the current situation. Establishing action plans that assign tasks using SMART – Specific, Measurable, Realistic and Timebound - is a critical part of the process.
Mentor, coming from “to think,” is only one part of the Mentoring partnership; the Mentee must take action for the benefits to be maximized.
The Mentor can plant the seeds, but the Mentee must make sure that the seeds get the water, nutrients, and sunshine to grow to thier fullest potential.
We should all plant seeds and be grateful for the seeds that have been planted for us.
"The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn." - Ralph Waldo Emerson