Mentoring Matters

Mentoring MattersWhat we don’t know is the reason we all need a mentor. Mentoring is a time- and money-saving strategy useful for developing employees. Organizations can uphold business standards and excel in their success metrics. Mentoring is meant to create results. We need mentors more now and for the next decade than we ever did before. Your mentoring program needs to ramp up now. We are in the midst of a mass exodus of baby boomers leaving the workforce and a mass influx of young workers entering the workforce.

As proof is being replaced by potential, as yourself, “How do we stay balanced during this massive shift in talents?” Millions of boomers are reaching the age of retirement every day, and to compound, and perhaps, even expedite the exodus, there is also a very significant and historic transference of wealth currently taking place, as the boomer’s parents pass on their fortunes to their children. To what degree the recent recession has impacted the age of retirement and the size of fortunes is uncertain, but it is safe to say that there is a meaningful change underway that could further complicate the always present challenge of staffing a business.

Baby boomers represent expertise and wisdom—young workers are still developing their expertise and acquiring wisdom. As your pool of experienced talent rapidly decreases, demand for talent is still, and will continue to be, on the rise. How do you capture that departing wisdom and transfer it to the new kids on the block? When we think young, we think inexperienced, but are you also thinking ripe for the picking, immeasurable potential and broadened capabilities?

The 20-somethings who are ready to become spa professionals are tech savvy, great at multitasking, and think collaboratively in a new box, not just outside the box. The 50- and 60-somethings are experienced, knowledgeable, and wise. They have grown into seasoned project managers and life teachers through years of parenting, spending every day positioning their kids for success. Their kids have been their most significant life project, and the love of the project continues. Baby boomers have a deep interest in seeing young protégés succeed, as they are natural mentors. There is a natural coupling here that is capable of helping solve this dilemma, but sometimes in the spa workplace, we see the more seasoned veterans hesitate to share their knowledge and expertise with the newbies, for fear that they will take their client base away from them—downloading their wisdom will somehow make them less of an expert and more of a commodity, with nothing extraordinary left to offer, just a watered-down version of what they worked so hard to become.

Yet nothing could be farther from the truth. How could giving strength, guidance, and even greatness to another, make you weak or less significant?  Quite the opposite occurs. A giving spirit gathers greatness. We just have to convince those who do not yet know it. Introducing mentoring to them may turn out to be a powerful personal healing experience. A culture of mentoring can be an instant staff gain and retain tool, whether it’s formal, semi-formal, or informal.

  • Developing a formal mentoring program means setting goals. First you may want to define clear project goals. For example, “Our goal is to bring new staff up to a certain amount of dollars in sales per hour within their first six months on the job.” Or “Have existing staff increase client retention to a minimum of a certain percentage within the next twelve months of service.” Then, training mentees and mentors on how to achieve those goals is what will ultimately bring about the best results. Consider the following mentoring programs: One about the numbers and productivity. Another about behaviors and service excellence. 

Gaining a strong buy-in will come easier if you think win-win and consider the needs of both the mentee and the mentor. You may need to consider that motivating staff to become mentors requires that you build in reward and recognition strategies. Mentors are often very busy people and mentees can be anxious and even impatient to implement ideas, so program efficiency and flexibility will be important. Additionally, the program will need to be run by a passionate, supportive program manager who is capable of maintaining buy-in by consistently proving the real value and benefits of mentoring.

  • Semi-formal Mentoring. If you don’t want to develop project goals, but you do want to encourage actionable results, consider these ideas:
  1. During lunch, make it your goal to do some speed mentoring where you previously observed a need in a specific person or area.
  2. Form a team and mentor a promising protégé.
  3. Become a mentee and receive reverse mentoring from a protégé who has knowledge in an area that you don’t.
  4. Join a peer group of mentors where participants have the same level of experience, but with different expertise in different departments.
  • Informal Mentoring in real time—ongoing and always. Mentoring is crucial in all aspects of life and doesn’t have to be a formalized program. It is a constant and anyone can be a mentor in real-time and on the spot.  Managers should strive to teach something new to someone every day, and strive to be taught something new by someone every day. There is a tip everywhere—be insatiable. Listen to where there is a need, be present so you can contribute, and inspire your staff to do the same.

Mentoring MattersMentoring is two-way road map to success. It is possible to work really hard in the wrong direction. You have to unlearn the mindset, recoup the time you’ve lost, and somehow get back on the right track. Or maybe you’re on the right track, but you’re just not putting enough effort into reaching your goals. A good mentor can help in both of these kinds of scenarios. They can help you correct your path, see blind spots and around corners. A mentor can push you to think bigger than you yourself envision, and even pull you out when you slip into complacency. But success can only come when the grandest effort is put forth by the mentee, in getting where they want to go.

To find a mentor in the real world, you first have to have a vision and know what you want to accomplish. Do you want to make more money, make a difference, and have more personal time? What kind of person can facilitate your vision? A financial guru, a well-connected philanthropist, or a time management professional? As you break down your wants and needs, your mentor’s profile(s) will emerge—consider that you may need more than one mentor. Start close to home where there are people you can trust, and then branch out from there.

Is there someone in your network of contacts? Or do you have a dream mentor within the industry? If so, attend one of their workshops or an industry event you know they will be present at. Have your introduction and pitch perfected, and show them your passion. They may not be available immediately, but be brave and persistent, a mentor notices those qualities.

You may wonder about indirect competition. Talk to everyone in your network and let him or her know you’re in the market. Individuals who want to pay it forward, or those who are looking for a reciprocal flow of information, may be more inclined to feel invested in you and your success. My first mentor taught me something I have never forgotten; he said, “Never seek advice from someone who doesn’t care about your future.” If you keep that in mind, your choices will become infinitely easier.