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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mentoring at Ebsco

In business, the definition of the word Mentor is "a senior or experienced person in a company or organization who gives guidance and training to a junior colleague". In Greek mythology, the character Mentor was placed in charge of Odysseus' son.  Because of this father-like, teacher relationship the word was adopted in English to mean a trusted friend, counselor or teacher. Some great pop culture examples of mentors are;
   Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid
   Master Po in the series Kung Fu
   Chubs Peterson in Happy Gilmore
   Morpheus in the The Matrix
   Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings
   Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars
Each of these examples were trusted confidants and authorities to the Mentee.  The key to their relationship was;
   The Mentees success depends on how well they are taught
   The Mentors success depends on how well the Mentee learns.
A true mentor relationship is inter-dependent of each party.  Only when the mentee succeeds does the mentor find success.
Mentoring is growing as a part of our culture at Ebsco.  For our purposes we will use the following definition,
   Mentoring is a career development method whereby less experienced employees are matched
   with more experienced colleagues for guidance.
The mentors take on the roles of Counselor, Guide, Role Model, Supporter and Confidant.  They do not do the work for the mentee, solve the mentees problems or advise the mentee on personal matters.  Through this relationship the mentees develop competence and comfort in new areas quicker, are provided structured learning and develop problem solving skills.
It is essential that the mentors enter the relationship with the proper mind set.  Every mentee should be considered a "10".  When we make a decision as to ones potential, we will then go about proving that assumption correct.  When you make the assumption the mentees has "10" potential you will begin to see them as who they can become in the company. You will be quicker to give them the benefit of the doubt and focus on their strengths.  With this positive influence the mentee will give their best effort in order to please the mentor. Assuming the best in them, gets the best out of them.
For a mentor relationship to be successful their must be;
   Genuine interest from both parties
   Management support
   time to participate
   Confidentiality between both parties
   Commitment from everyone involved
   Clear 2-way communication
   Clear, mutually established goals
During the process the mentor most pay close attention to verbal and non verbal communication from the mentee.  At times the mentee will become frustrated and the progress must be slowed, allowing the mentee to catch up.  At other times the mentee will show signs of boredom and the mentor should speed the process up to keep the mentee engaged.
Our Team Lead position at Ebsco is a mentor role with a few additional responsibilities.  Our Team Leads focus is on developing the talents of their team members.  In addition we are assigning individual mentors to each new employee.  This provides an additional person vested in their success.  An additional resource for their learning.
Mentoring is not a common skill.  Everyone utilizes parts of mentoring in their life but few are acquainted with it as a process.  Realizing this Ebsco has begun formal training on our mentor program.  We have completed the first training session with the Team Leads and are completing a training module to share with our other mentors.  Adding responsibilities without training is one of the surest formulas for failure.  We are not going to fail.
We have committed ourselves to training at Ebsco and the Mentor program is a key to this effort.  In a successful mentoring program the mentor, the mentee and the company all win.

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