Mentoring means different things to different people!
To me, a mentor is someone who can work with me to encourage me, to question me and critically who will challenge the assumptions I make about my business. It is difficult to see what you take for granted yourself! The way you do business, the services you offer and the customer needs which you meet are things which most of us take for granted based on our experience and what has worked up to now.
Linking the services of a mentor to a learning programme produces a double bonus! The potential to get new ideas from trainers, coupled with the discussion with other participants can all be more actively leveraged by the effective use of suitable mentors. The mentor can discuss the learning points with you and how they might relate to your business right now. You can agree an action plan, for your business specifically, based on the learning and not just drift back into the pressures of work, which most of us do and forget that we learned anything within a few days!
Not only that, but the simple fact that you have committed to another person that you will do something and that you will be discussing it again at your next meeting or phone call, makes most of us much more likely to take action!
For many small business owners, implementing change is difficult because of the isolation of the role and because of not being quite sure of what to do. Being able to discuss an idea with a trusted person who understands the issues is a great help to clarifying exactly what needs to be done and how it is going to get done.
Having discussed the issue and come up with a way of tackling it, the mentor can also add value by helping you to consider how effective the plan has been. We can all be good at kidding ourselves as to why things did not work as well as we had planned! A good mentor will challenge this behaviour so that we can be more honest in our review so that we can really learn for the next time!
Finding the right mentor is not always easy. If a mentor is being engaged as part of a learning programme, it becomes easier as a panel of suitably qualified and relevant mentors is usually available.
So, yes – mentoring can work!
To find management development programmes designed for small and medium sized businesses, many of which include mentoring services, visit www.managementworks.ie.