The Invisible Money Tree
For a long time, I have been surprised to find that the people I speak to tend to believe they have either not encountered mentoring in their lives, or, they know about mentoring, but don’t appreciate the benefits and opportunities that mentoring can offer them.
During my time as Global Talent Manager at WaterAid, responsible for the mentoring programme, it has become increasingly apparent to me that everyone needs a mentor. Mentoring is extremely valuable to both individuals and organisations and I liken mentoring to a 'money tree'.
A mentors’ value is not only in terms of role specific technical advice, but also in terms of career progression and development as well as empowering and building self-confidence.
Whilst mentoring opportunities are available for everyone, some individuals, often considered by others as successful in terms of career advancement, frequently take from the money tree that is seemingly invisible to many others.
These individuals embrace personal development and exploiting the money tree increases their chances of personal growth, attaining the next promotion, getting a bigger bonus, gaining more job satisfaction and achieving better work life balance.
I offer the following insight to help others see and start taking from the mentoring money tree that may be invisible today.
Naming mentors – The term 'mentor' is unlikely to be one we came across at school, it’s more likely we first hear the term when we start work. More recognisable names for mentors could include, teacher, parent, sports coach, friend, someone who provides advice and encouragement when needed to help with the challenges we face. Whether this is a parent encouraging a toddler to walk or a teacher providing the inspiration to connect with a subject at school, it’s important to recognise that those mentors who potentially have the biggest impact on our lives are those who have already helped us through our journey to adulthood.
The mentoring equation – It’s important to understand the mentee is the primary beneficiary of the mentoring relationship. How much a mentee invests in the process will directly impact what they get out of it. Whilst there are undoubtedly benefits to the mentor, the emphasis needs to be on the mentee. Without initial guidelines in place to explain how to maximize the mentoring opportunity, it’s very easy for mentoring relationships to fail before any benefits are realised due to mismanaged expectations, often as a result of the mentee not seeing the immediate lottery win result they were hoping for. Successful mentoring requires several key ingredients, patience, common understanding and trust need to be developed first and ensure momentum is maintained when other commitments get in the way. Mentees who understand this equation up front and can clearly articulate what they want from the mentoring relationship will get off to a good start.
Conflicting priorities – Mentoring is likely to fall into the category of “important, but not urgent”, and in a world of conflicting priorities where time and productivity is paramount, it’s easy to understand why people focus on what’s urgent, unfortunately this means that important activities such as mentoring do not get done. Opportunities to mentor and be mentored do not go away, they are always present and more often than not, right under your nose but will remain invisible unless you take time to re-prioritise your activities and ensure sufficient time is given to the important ones, not just the urgent ones. Those most important of all, which are often overlooked, fall into the category of self-development.
On National Mentoring Day, 27th October 2019, I would like to see people who have benefited from mentoring in their lives to share examples and success stories that will help illuminate the mentoring money tree for others to see.
What are you doing in your organisations to help illuminate the mentoring money tree?