There are some people in this world who are never going to get along well because of differences in personality, opinions, work ethic—any number of reasons. That being said, I would advise them not to be paired together in a mentoring program.
One must also recognize and immediately handle situations which arise and could taint the program. An example would be a manipulative mentor. A mentorship program requires trust, but it can easily be used by a mentor to inappropriately delegate unwanted tasks (which is bad enough) or to use the work of the protégé and claim it as their own (even worse). There could also be neglect. For those not committed to the mentorship program, a frequent issue is simply not participating in ways that will make the relationship beneficial. This can happen either with the mentor or the protégé.
People are people and often bring unexpected twists and turns to any plan. In our crazy, but awesome multifamily world, there is one thing that has always held true: Going it alone only works in movies. Everyone can benefit from having someone to show them how to get things done the right way and help guide them down the path to success.
Mentoring is such an important part of our industry and one that is often neglected. It can certainly lead to more productive and happier employees, which is precisely how you want your employees to be. Productive and happy. However, before running off to start a mentoring program, there are things to keep in mind.
There are some dangers and potential pitfalls to avoid in mentoring like most other plans. One of the first things to remember is mentoring is not coaching. People often mix these two terms, but they are not the same. Good coaches bring a well-thought-out, objective plan to the table in order to help an employee or a group of employees achieve a goal. Mentoring, on the other hand, is more organic. A mentor and protégé spend time together so that over the course of the relationship, knowledge is passed from one person to another. This knowledge can cut across many different areas, including, but not limited to:
- How to excel at a specific task, job, or career
- How to successfully navigate company culture
- How to interact with other employees
- How to solve problems “One of the first things to remember is mentoring is not coaching.
So why go through all the trouble of creating a mentoring program? Because the benefits are many. The primary one is the passing of knowledge from a veteran employee or one with an expertise in a certain area—to a younger employee. The amount of time spent
together leads to the sort of transfer of good habits, skills, work ethics, and work knowledge that cannot be replicated through emails, meetings or even training seminars. There are many other practical benefits to mentoring, including:
- Speeding up the on-boarding process for new employees
- Creating a higher level of satisfaction for employees by addressing developmental needs
- Increasing productivity because those in the program can get quick feedback on solving problems, allowing them to get around roadblocks faster and move on
- Developing new leaders
Mentor programs often produce the kind of employees who eventually rise through the ranks and become leaders themselves, armed with the knowledge and skills that have been passed on to them. Mentoring is good for the mentor, too. Good mentors value ongoing learning and growth. Mentoring others provides them with opportunities to learn as they teach. Managed correctly, and with the right people in the program, mentoring can have an enormous, positive effect on your organization.
Author: Christi Wedel, NAAEI Faculty Instructor, LYND