Mentoring – It’s the ‘IN THING’!

PRP Solutions CFO Hiten Keshave approaches everything he does at the speed of light, with 200% passion, verve and drive. His mantra? ‘I impact people’s lives and businesses positively, for future sustainability.’ He joined The Mentorship Challenge because he believes in the value of shared knowledge and exchange. And he’s shared some foundational insights right here.

Want to boost your lifestyle, progress in your career or find a way to get out of that slump you feel you’re in? If your answer is a resounding ‘yes!’, then mentoring is something you need to consider.

A recent survey by Forbes shows that mentoring resulted in individuals’ career success and lifestyles improving in a variety of areas, from promotions to raises, from shifts in positions to happier employees.

Corporate mentorships in the workplace are hard to find today, even though they matter more than ever. Here’s an interesting fact: 71% of Fortune 500 organisations do mentoring! It makes sense and explains why they are so successful. Do we know how many of South Africa’s JSE-listed companies offer mentoring as part of their work culture ethos?

Even if your company doesn’t offer mentoring, it doesn’t mean you cannot or will not find a mentor. Various individuals, out of their own good, share their time mentoring others on a pro bono basis, whilst organisations like Redefine Properties and SAICA have founded their own mentoring programmes. It’s just a matter of asking for mentorship – because if you don’t ask the question, the answer to your burning question will always be ‘no!’ And, remember, the worst outcome you can get from asking is a ‘no’.

Mentoring works two ways

A successful mentorship journey entails commitment, willingness and a sense of responsibility from both the mentor and mentee. The core ingredients of success as a mentor and mentee are outlined below.

What makes a GREAT mentor?

Great mentors don’t have to be successful businesspersons as a prerequisite! What a great mentor must have is the willingness to develop other individuals, and a willingness to share their knowledge and experience – in both their successes and their failures!

When looking for a mentor, or if you want to serve as a mentor, here are five guidelines that determine a successful mentorship journey:

  • The mentor seeks no monetary reward when developing and helping the mentee. Great mentors are ‘clean at heart’.
  • Mentoring is a journey, so it requires mentors to ensure availability and commitment. We all have busy lives, and if you cannot avail yourself, then mentoring is not for you. Remember, as a mentor, you essentially are impacting and influencing the mentee’s life.
  • Focus on areas of common interest, be these industry-related, professional or even lifestyle-related (depending on the mentee’s needs). Do not get involved in areas where you have not planted your feet; it’s a waste of time and can lead to frustration! And, as mentioned earlier, share both your successes and failures! Ask yourself the following simple question: Do I want my mentee to fall in the same traps I did?
  • Set up development and goal plan schedules with the following focus:
  • Development objectives
  • Development activities to meet the development objectives
  • Timelines for completion of development activities
  • Resources/support required from the mentor to support the mentee in the above
  • Finally, listen! Successful mentors listen to their mentees, and then execute. It’s very much like being successful in business – if you don’t listen to your customer and employee, you are heading towards failure!

What makes a GREAT mentee?

Do you have the openness to want to learn? Are you ready to show gratitude for the goodwill provided by your mentor out of heart? If these questions resonate with you, then you are on the right track!

When starting a mentorship journey, here are four attributes for you to keep in mind:

  • Be clear on your career and lifestyle goals and objectives; and communicate these clearly to your mentor. Setting the benchmark upfront clears up those ‘grey’ areas! Remember, this is not a therapy session, so don’t expect your mentor to do all the work.
  • Go in with an open mind and a willingness to learn. This does not mean you have to be in agreement with everything but, should you disagree, understand ‘why’, and clarify this with your mentor. An honest relationship is a genuine relationship!
  • Hold yourself accountable and responsible when working on your development objectives and activities. As much as your mentor helps you identify these, it is up to you to execute them!
  • Stay committed. This is a journey, and successful mentor-mentee relationships take time to build. Apply these four principles in your relationship, namely: commitment, appreciation, respect and trust.

I strongly encourage people – if and when they are ready – to become mentors and see how you can make a difference in another person’s life. At the same time, for anyone seeking mentorship, go out and network, using social media platforms like The Mentorship Challenge, as well as your own internal network. And, remember, if you don’t ask, your answer will automatically be ‘no!’.

Mentoring makes a difference! As both a mentor and mentee, I have experienced success at both ends of the table, and no words can quite describe the feeling one gets when achieving success!

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