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8 mentorship Secrets to help you avoid checked boxes and forced relationships

Any organization that cares at all about their employees has a mentorship program. But due to the overly-programmed nature of most of the well-intentioned attempts, they do not see a significant increase in the quality of their working environment.

The larger the organization is, the more difficult it is to provide something that meets their desired goal. Even if the mentorship program at your organization is not what you had hoped it would be. At least be grateful that they recognize the need, and they are trying to do something about it.

Since large organizations have a lot of things stacked against them, I am offering these helpful tips that could radically change the effectiveness of your mentorship programs. These recommendations are directed at organizational leaders.

Don’t train people to mentor.

Mentor them, and they will naturally become mentors. Mentorship can not be taught by a book (or a blog post). It is something you learn through life on life experiences. So, if you want to develop a life-changing mentor program for your organization, start mentoring a few guys yourself and encourage others to grow into this discipline. It takes time, but in the long run, it will better serve your people than a simple mentorship program. It’s a long game.

Always ask questions.

Create an environment where you ask each other questions. Silly questions (What’s your favorite Ice cream, What would you buy first if you won the lottery? Etc.). Then working toward serious ones that take the relationship and trust deeper. Spend time asking questions in meetings, over dinner, even in the car. Who knows what you might learn. Think of it as research that moves you into development. If you don’t know the person, you can not mentor them well.

Recognize those who are natural mentors.

Some people are naturally gifted mentors, others have been mentored well in the past, and they know how to reproduce the investment that was made in them. For those who are already excelling, recognize their strengths, and give them freedom, don’t frustrate them by looking over their shoulder or burdening them with checklists. Let them mentor in a way that seems right to them and let the results speak for themselves. But don’t give them 100% free reign, it is appropriate to check their progress and be sure they are fulfilling the task and mentoring well.

Speak about your mentors and how they taught you.

Mention them often. Your apprentices should know the names of your mentors. It helps them to see who you learned from and how mentorship has affected your life. It also gives them a sense of the history of the information you are passing on. This will cause your apprentices to desire similar experiences.

Debrief, Debrief, Debrief

Always spend time talking about things after they happen. Ask them what they would have done differently, give them ideas to try the next go-round. But be intentional to debrief and make everything a learning experience.

Spend time together.

Stay up late, get up early, whatever it takes to invest in their lives. If you only mentor and spend time with them when it is convenient for you, it will limit the depth of your influence on them. But if you sacrifice for them, they will appreciate it and move mountains for you.

Focus on their obedience and growth, not their knowledge.

Knowledge is essential, but mentorship is not about a knowledge transfer alone. Encourage them when you see marked growth and obedience in their lives. Don’t overwhelm them with what they don’t know, encourage the good you see, and inspire them to grow in new areas. As they grow, they will make room for more knowledge. But remember knowledge that is passed on but not used us often wasted.   

Help people think through intentional Paul’s and Timothy’s in their life.

Encourage them to seek out at least one of each. This should be a policy from the top dogs to the newest of newbies. These are the types of changes that change the culture of an organization.

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