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In pursuit of a perfect Mentor



Mentor,mentors,mentee,protege,programs
Monday, September 28, 2009

Rajit Nair

To have a Mentor is the best blessing anyone who is serious about his or her career or business. A Mentor is not your parent, or a relative or a friend or a well wisher. Mentors are normally experienced and well balanced individuals. Mentor’s role is to provide you with the best advice at the right time and importantly, to alert when you are in the wrong track.

Most well-established and organized Organizations have well-structured, in-house Mentoring programs for the benefit of their human capital.

If you have a choice to choose your own Mentor then try to do some homework before you ‘pick one’. The important factors to ponder is to have a person who understands you, appreciates your strengths, suggest corrective measures for your negatives and who has at least 15 minutes per business day to spare with you. Ensure that this person doesn’t have a history of being a dictator or possess selfish interests and is well aware of his/her own weaknesses as well.

When I started my career, I was fortunate or unfortunate to have someone as my Mentor as well. My Mentor was a highly educated, creative person with in-depth knowledge and immense patience. After couple of months into the association, I realized that certain advices provided by my own Mentor have some borderline, which he wants me not to cross. Many instances, my positives were downplayed to bring my morals down. In the long run, I was mature enough to recognize such an action would be detrimental to my career. Further more. I realized that the motive behind such a script was to make sure that I would never exceed someone we known in common. Anyway, looking back, through Mentoring, I gained considerably, but at the expense of my dream. My dream to get a doctoral degree was somehow debugged from my thoughts. Also, it is very important for the Mentors to understand that when a youngster approaches you, they place you next to God. In such cases, Mentor should be extremely careful and diligent while delivering advices, because, at an young age and if the Mentee (protégé.) idolizes the Mentor, then the damage that would result from a wrong suggestion will be tremendous for the Mentee.

After many years, I was fortunate to be a Mentor for one of my co-workers. As a Mentor, I can proudly say that I transformed this person to a ‘go-getter’. After my exit from the organization, this person really did face some issues from the new management, which is natural. But with the survival techniques he learned and the exceptional talent he developed, this person proved his worth and earned well-deserved career advancement. Why I succeeded as a Mentor in this case is purely because, I never had any hidden agenda and I was mature enough to accommodate and appreciate a subordinate’s success.

The most rewarding experience as a Mentor is in the case of one of my co-workers during my stint in one of the GCC countries. Her career transformation was started when I hired her in spite of her lack of previous experience in Human Resources Management. She had experience in handling marketing activities in an organization prior joining my department. During the interview itself I could observe her persistence, perseverance and her passion for success. She was guided to become an HR Professional, with the highest degree of professionalism and ethics. Through our association, her thinking process was streamlined and her outlook for life was realigned. Her inborn nature to uphold human values also played an important role for her success as an HR professional. During the program she did enhance her knowledge bank that complemented her career. After 2 years, she moved to one of the leading corporate houses and her career is all set to take a big stride.

If you ask me the reasons behind this success story, it is not because of my timely advice or guidance but because of the Mentee’s eagerness to learn and willingness to listen. A Mentee should be non egoistic and receptive to ‘get’ more from a Mentor.

The foremost success factor in any Mentoring program is having a proper communication channel. By that, even if the Mentor or the Mentee leaves the Organization (if your Mentor is in the same Organization), Mentor can continue to provide you with guidance that would tender assistance to the Mentee to climb the rungs of the corporate ladder.

Editor: You can read this also at Rajit's Blog.






Tuesday, September 29, 2009.

BG writes: Mentoring is as much of a necessity now as the need to recognize the need to find one, a sort of meta-mentoring!

In the corporate (read employment) ambit as well as outside it, there is a lot of experimentation going on. Uncertainty seems to rule the organizational realms today more than it has been a decade ago. The sub contract culture seems to be taking hold shifting accountability and responsibility to 'others' hosing values down the drain.

Worse, the author received his worst surprise some six years ago when told that Rajasthan schools sub contracted teaching. But of late schools in South India, once reputed for their teachers, have become commonplace hosts for sub contract hires. The mentor status has started vanishing from the school culture. Everything is temp. Values going up for a toss. There are no more professors, but only guest lecturers, essentially sub contract temps. The same holds true in the corporate scene. Perpetuity and anything that resembles continuity or permanence is feared. Result? Evanescence of Value and the emergence of Price!

After all the school is where the mentorship basically begins. Mentorship in the good old days meant a lot more than subject matter teaching. Around it came a lot of priceless attributes. Values, respect for tradition, respect for elders, respect for books, respect for knowledge and learning and a lot of other little things fondly remembered and honored as 'unwritten rules' of decency, all taught gracefully at schools and homes. (they used to be simply called graces)

The sub contract culture, spawned by shoestring budgets at homes and schools has given way to anything of value that was considered permanent. Hardly any of the flashy coats of arms one finds these days on the school letterheads has anything to do with reality.

Rajit's article nonetheless stresses the need for mentoring in a corporate environment, but where are the raw human resources who were brought up in a mentored culture?

The teaching institutions are to be re-endowed with the values of mentoring in the very basics of character building if the coming generations can even be worthy of being candidates for receiving a mentor's time and training!

Mentoring in Character Building and promoting Thought Power are the needs of the hour. Any other tutoring will be mere whitewash. Remember the movie “Good bye Mr.Chips”? Remember our own famous Mentee, Ekalavya?

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