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Susan M. Heathfield

Got a Mentor? You Are Blessed

By January 3, 2014

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Mentoring people has been one of the joys of my past twenty years of work. There is nothing quite as special as watching individuals grow their capabilities, outlook, goals, and ability to contribute.

I have been fortunate to have had, and mentored, several wonderful assistants in my business over the years - and I hear from them every holiday season. (Thanks Sandy and Lori!) And, in every client organization, managers and others who saw the value of spending the time and developing the relationship, benefitted from spending time with me - and I, them.

Mentoring Benefits the Mentor

In a manufacturing client organization in Wisconsin, a young plant manager and I had dinner every two weeks when I visited his company. He didn't have to have dinner with me; I think he valued the time and the mentoring and coaching. I like to believe that the ideas and how-to we exchanged helped him lay the foundation for a successful career.

I have probably fifty additional examples from my consulting years. This employee mentoring was in addition to the work I was paid to do in client companies, because it brought me a special sense of contributing.

And, the truth of it? I benefitted as much as they did. The relationships brought me joy. I enjoyed the exchange of ideas and their insights into the world of work. The exchanges made me a better consultant because I learned about how the world "really" operated in their organizations and the additional knowledge helped frame my recommendations.

And, I was privileged to spend time with young people, and learning situations, that I may never have known in the usual course of events. Every time I think of mentoring, I also nod my head in gratitude to Ron Carr, a GM skilled tradesman who scheduled skilled trades training at my GM plant. He took me on weekly plant walks to introduce me to the heavy manufacturing environment and the tool and die guys, who later adopted me for training needs assessment, as a result.

January Is Mentoring Month

January is National Mentoring Month and I have quite a lot of material about mentoring, consulting, coaching, and developing a learning organization on the site. Many guest authors write about mentoring for the site and I have written a book about how to start a mentoring program in a university. Recently, I emphasized the most important characteristics of potential mentors.

You won't want to miss my interview with Beth Carvin, CEO of Nobscot Corporation and MentorScout, and an expert in mentor-mentee matching. The interview highlighted how to get and utilize a mentor. Take a look, especially for the five steps in getting a mentor.

Fun Mentoring Question

Here's a question in fun for you this week. You may not know that I am a big science fiction fan and I also like creature features, but no vampires, slasher movies, zombies, or movies of that ilk, to set the record straight. With the film, Starship Troopers, playing in the background as I write to you today, the film strikes me as a key example of on-the-job mentoring. Johnny Ricco's relationship with his mentor, Jean Rasczak, shows how tough love builds citizens and character. Follow my drift? If you've seen it, what do you think?

You will also be interested in these additional resources about mentoring.

Image Copyright Digital Vision / Getty Images

More Resources About Mentoring

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