In the early 1970s television series, “Kung Fu,” a fictitious, soft-spoken Shaolin monk, Kwai Chang Caine, wandered barefoot through the Old West seeking tranquility, however always finding trouble instead.
To cope in those lawless days sometimes Caine depended upon the very thing that lots of professionals now rely on in order to cope in today’s business world: the advice of a solid mentor. Caine’s mentor was an older, blind, Chinese wise man who called him “Grasshopper,” who preached patience, awareness and humility, and who taught him how to beat the daylights out of heavily armed gunslingers before breaking a sweat.
Thankfully, learning how to administer a flying double-leg kick isn’t a significant requirement for success in business now, but a fantastic mentor could supply a younger less experienced employee not only with strong nuts-and-bolts business guidance, but honest opinions along with the adult perspective of somebody that has been there, and done that.
In my situation, it was a fairly simple equation: challenging work, some lucky breaks, and good mentors. For businesses with powerful mentorship programs the payoff is increased employee satisfaction and loyalty, and a reduction in costly turnover based on a 2016 survey of 7,700 millennials by Deloitte.
Many businesses have structured mentorship programs where new employees are paired with more experienced ones. This makes for good strategic business advice.
If done correctly, it isn’t the worst of ideas. In 2015, Harvard Business Review surveyed 45 CEOs who were officially mentored, and 71 reported that they believed company performance had improved as a result. The study noted that 84 percent of those CEOs credited mentors with ‘helping them avoid expensive errors and become adept in their roles quicker’.
Perrotty was a part of an early wave American female executives, where in her early career she benefitted from the mentorship of Meridian Bank CEO Zeke Ketchum. She said that he had seen her potential early and was always willing to help her navigate the company or to think about all sides of an issue.
Business mentoring really is about developing a relationship with your colleagues and taking the opportunity to take an interest in someone else’s development. Everybody can be a mentor to someone, helping them to grow and develop.
Mentors also offer knowledge and information. In doing so they can see where we improvement in performance needs to be made where the mentees would otherwise not see. The constructive criticism that a mentor supplies helps you find things that you may not have otherwise recognized.
Mentors find ways to excite professional and personal development. With a mentor frequently posing concerns to consider and asking the answers afterward to expands the mentees mind to think a different way and consider things they may not have previously considered. In setting targets and observing how the mentee is going, the mentor has an objective eye in the process and is able to provide feedback in helping to foster personal growth.
Mentors are disciplinarians that produce necessary boundaries which would not necessarily have occurred otherwise. They are also sounding boards to bounce ideas off for an ‘unfiltered opinion’ and do so in order to better develop the mentees for future performance and review.
Mentors are also reputable business advisors. Due to the many years experience in the field, they are able to provide well-formulated and researched advice.
An often forgotten about benefit of mentors is that they provide a great means for networking. They offer access to people within your business that are ready to invest in what you have to offer, provide their skills and experience and potentially introduce you to their networks.
Mentors have the capabilities to help the business grow in sharing their knowledge and expertise with the newer members of the industry.