#TMPBusinessSavvy — Does Your Business Need A Mentor Or A Substitute Parent?
This is a another piece in the #TMPBusinessSavvy series, which has already looked at The Seven Steps To Business Heaven, Ten Things That Successful Entrepreneurs Do & Do Well and The Five Questions You Need To Ask Your Business Today!
In this piece I want to turn the lens onto Mentoring & Business Mentoring in particular and explore what it means in practice and how it can support Businesses to face competitive, legislative, technical, financial and Organisational challenges to develop and grow.
But let’s be clear at the outset what Business Mentoring is not: It should not be confused with Training, Consultancy, Counselling or Life Coaching!
At The Mudd Partnership we believe that all successful Companies and Organisations act to preserve the Core and stimulate Growth.
The Core is preserved by having in place the right structures, policies and procedures; & growth is stimulated by understanding your purpose; your market & how to approach it; setting the right bench-marking criteria and measuring yourself against the best in your sector; & being Super Agile in your systems, thinking and delivery.
It is a given which I’m sure we’d all agree with that the challenge of running and growing a Business or Social Enterprise can be unyielding; whether dealing with staff, securing funding, managing the Bottom Line, establishing new markets, or, ensuring that your products and services are fit for purpose and can meet demand.
In my experience I’ve found that a Business Mentor can help their Mentee develop confidence in their Leadership skills and improve their ability to channel their own and others efforts to maximum effect — But how does this actually work in Practice?
Mentoring has been defined as, “A way of naturally passing knowledge, experience and wisdom from one individual to another”.
The word Mentor in fact actually means, “Enduring” and has its’ roots in Greek Mythology.
It is now more usually used to describe a sustained relationship between an experienced person and someone who is in the initial stages of their development and can be used in both a personal or a professional context.
The OED describes a Mentor as an, “Experienced and trusted Adviser”.
An effective Mentor needs to have strong communication skills including the ability to:
- Listen Actively, but without Judging: As Marcus Aurelius wrote circa AD 175, “Practice hearing what people really say”
- Give & Receive Feedback: Being Analytical, Being Reflective, Being Self Aware, Being Open & Being Honest
- Question Skillfully to encourage the Mentee to talk & think through Issues: Using Open, Follow-up, Reflective & Hypothetical Questions to help the Mentee to think in new ways, make meaning and identify their own solutions; &
- Challenge Constructively: There is also some overlap with Coaching in that Mentors also “Pull” — they don’t “Push”; they use Three Levels of Awareness to get the message across — Objective Reality, Interpretation & Reaction; & they practice listening using the 5 elements of the Chinese symbol for effective listening — You, Your Ears, Your Eyes, Your Heart & Your Undivided Attention — However there are also distinct differences; particularly in the nature and terms of the Mentee — Mentor relationship
Most certainly though Mentoring should not be mistaken for:
- Being a Substitute Parent: The Mentee holds the reins in the relationship, not the Mentor — If the Mentor senses that the Mentee would like them to take control and ‘Babysit’ them, they should make clear that the responsibility lies with the Mentee
- Being a Counselor: The Mentor is not the person to fix things on behalf of the Mentee, but rather is there to listen, challenge, question, guide & empower
- Being a Cushion or a Sponge: The Mentor is not there to listen to the Mentees moans and the emphasis should always be on steering the discussion in more positive directions
- Being a Friend: There is a balance to be struck, but there is also a distinct line between being friendly and engaging & being a Friend — A Mentor needs to be able to be honest, critical and even blunt when called for, &, needs both perspective and objective distance to be able to do this most effectively
- Being a Disciplinarian: Just as the Mentor is not there to ‘Babysit’ the Mentee, they are also not there to chastise if a mistake is made or the Mentee doesn’t appear to be pulling their weight — If the Mentor notices this they should simply call attention to it at the first opportunity — The Mentee’s success, or failure, is not the Mentor’s responsibility — It’s their own; & finally
- Being God: Have you ever worked with someone who had what can only be described as a God Complex? They believe they know best and just won’t leave you alone to do what needs to be done? No matter how much experience and knowledge the mentor has, they are not expected to have all the answers — The role of a Mentor is not to tell but to guide, support and encourage the Mentee to progress along their own path!
Paul Mudd is author of ‘Uncovering Mindfulness: In Search Of A Life More Meaningful’ (All new and updated 2nd Edition) available Autumn 2018 on Amazon and www.bookboon.com; the ‘Coffee & A Cup of Mindfulness’ and the ‘Mindful Hacks For Mindful Living & Mindful Working’ series. He is also a Contributing Author to The Huffington Post and a Contributing Writer to Thrive Global. Through The Mudd Partnership he works with business leaders, organisations and individuals in support of change, leadership excellence, business growth and introducing Mindfulness. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow the continuing journey uncovering Mindfulness on Twitter @TheMindfulBook and at @Paul_Mudd