articles, I’ve focused on several lessons I learned while dealing with
ant invasions in my house this summer. So far, the lessons have been
based on rather negative behavior by the ants (“why don’t they
learn???). This month, I’d like to focus on a lesson based on a positive
behavior they exhibit – ants always leave a trail for others to follow.
If you’ve ever
watched ants on a mission, you have undoubtedly noticed that the ants
create a trail, and all the others follow right along behind. While
there are scientific explanations for this behavior, this also provides
a good model and example of what we should be doing in our own
organizations – leaving a trail for others to follow. As employees of a
complex organization, we all have many roles to play. While ants have no
apparent leader, it is quite clear that one ant has taken the initiative
in leading and teaching others “the way”. One way for this to occur in
the corporate world, is through mentoring others.
kind of mentoring?
While traditionally, mentoring meant a formal relationship between one
person and someone senior (generally a supervisor), mentoring now
encompasses less formal relationships. Frequently, mentoring
relationships are very short-term – for a specific purpose or end
result, or they can even be for one interaction. Have you ever had an
“ah ha” moment after a conversation with someone? That was an example of
mentoring. There might even be times when you have mentored someone and
not even known it!
is mentoring important?
There are a number of reasons why mentoring is important in today’s
global organizations. On a greater and greater scale, we are becoming
more and more international, regardless of whether we have a corporate
presence outside the US or not. As we look around us, we are in contact
with people from all backgrounds and experiences – what a wealth of
information and experience from which to draw.
As we acknowledge and
embrace this diversity, we find ourselves members of work teams
comprised of people with many backgrounds. The ability to mentor each
other as peers leads to more effective team performance. Imagine a group
of people working together, teaching and motivating each other toward a
common goal. How powerful would that be in your organization?
is another reason mentoring is important to today’s organizations. While
this is one of the more traditional reasons for mentoring programs in
the corporate world, there are an increasing number of “baby boomers”
exiting the workplace. This is causing concern about the tremendous
amount of corporate knowledge that will be lost as well. Formal and
informal mentoring can address this concern, and companies can be
proactive in ensuring some of that corporate knowledge says behind.
mentoring can be a powerful mechanism for generating a more creative and
innovative culture within an organization. Informal mentoring often
encourages continuous learning, as people challenge one another with new
thoughts and ideas. It can also lead to more organizational cohesion, as
a culture of learning, sharing and contributing is developed. What
better way to create a people-centric organization?
What’s in it for me?
Well, that is up to you to decide. What would you want out of a
mentoring relationship? Maybe one of your passions is to encourage and
challenge others to be their best. Perhaps the other person has a skill
or information you would like access to. There are many reasons you
might be interested in becoming a mentor
If you decide this is
for you, be prepared to experience new insights, as your mentee is
likely to make you think about things in new ways. That said, you might
find yourself as a mentee to your mentee!
Follow Your Heart, but Listen
to your Gut
I Hear You Talking, But is Anyone