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The Three C's of Mentoring

To be successful in todays' market, businesses need to constantly evolve and adapt to changing conditions and contexts. Workplace mentoring program are a good way to coach employees in company policy and inner workings. The benefits of mentoring programs are immense and it's no wonder more and more organizations have begun establishing permanent mentoring programs to bolster their workforce.

1. Mentoring creates a learning culture

Being a mentor is far, far more than telling someone what to do. It requires a careful balance of guidance, observation, intuition and empathy. Mentors aren't there to actively solve problems faced by new employees but are there rather to help employees identify issues and autonomously deduce correct solutions.

Consultant

The foremost role of any mentor is to offer his/her services as a consultant. Just as businesses consultants are hired to provide guidance based on their knowledge of an industry, mentors are tasked with passing on information and industry insight gained through years of work-experience. Mentors don't necessarily train mentees with the intent of elevating their industry knowledge to that of the mentor. They are there to help mentees develop critical-thinking and problem-solving skills so that they might gradually become more productive and more capable in the current role. Mentors help novice employees navigate general problems in the workplace, freeing up time and resources to focus more on novel issues that are unique to their work.

Counselor

Mentors must guide mentees without offering the solutions to every problem they encounter on a silver platter. It's tempting for a mentor to point out every mistake made by mentees then propose corrective action. This would however contradict another primary role of the mentoring: to help mentees learn from mistakes.

The process of learning and adaptation is often more beneficial to mentees than an objectively 'correct' outcome. Mentors must provide guidance, but do not always have to provide answers. Mentors must promote the ability of mentees to work autonomously and deduced correct solutions on their own.

Cheerleader

Besides providing constructive criticism and feedback, the final primary role of mentors is to provide support and instill mentees with enthusiasm for their work.

Sometimes, simply knowing that a business is invested in one's growth can be a great moral boost to employees.

An important idea to take away is that even incorrect actions should be commended. This seems a little counter-intuitive, but a large part of adaptation involves learning from mistakes. Incorrect action may cost a small amount of time and resources in the short run, but fostering a work environment where mistakes are permitted, and learning is encouraged can dramatically reduce the stress inherent in many jobs.

Balancing the 3 C's

It takes more than a desire to help to help to be a successful mentor. Knowing how to balance one's role and consultant, counselor and cheerleader requires time, training and a liberal dose of intuition.

It's important to note that mentoring is not a 1-way process and successfully managing a mentor/mentee relationship requires open communication between all involved parties. Mentees must be honest about what they expect from their mentor and vice-versa. Transparency is key.


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What is a mentor?

How to develop a successful mentor program