The art of mentoring Featured

8:00pm EDT April 25, 2007
Mentoring is a continuous process that can maximize the success of an institution while guiding and supporting each person toward individual and collective achievement opportunities.

“Mentoring is a developmental, caring, sharing and helping relationship where the mentor helps the person being mentored,” says Bahaudin Mujtaba, D.B.A., an assistant professor for Nova Southeastern University at the School of Business.

Smart Business talked to Mujtaba about what it takes for an organization to implement an effective mentoring program.

What does a mentor do?

A mentor can be a person who offers knowledge, insight, perspective or wisdom that is helpful to another person in a relationship that goes beyond duty or obligation. A mentor creates opportunities for exposure, provides challenging and educational assignments, and serves as a role model and adviser.

How can mentoring programs help an organization?

The goal of a mentoring program should be to help leaders, managers, coaches and senior employees become highly skilled, self-aware, inclusive, energetic and creative, and to carry a zest for mentoring every day.

Effective mentors and leaders understand that developing others requires self-reflection, sensitivity, risk-taking, interdependency and teamwork among all parties. They also understand that such a synergy requires forging a partnership, inspiring commitment, growing both the mentor’s and mentee’s skills, promoting persistency and shaping the environment so all parties can achieve their goals.

In the business world, how do mentor/protégé relationships begin?

They often evolve informally, but managers can encourage and formalize them.

Effective mentoring requires listening, caring and other forms of involvement between mentors and mentees. According to experts, mentoring is often used to achieve the interests of special groups and populations, conserve and transfer special know-how, encourage contributions, bring employees together in a new social environment, help people reach their full potential, enhance the competitive position of a person or department, and develop better relationships around the globe.

What is the key to a good mentoring program?

Mentoring is a collaborative effort. Effective mentoring is a relationship built on trust, in which the mentee confides personal information and characteristics to the mentor and the mentor guides the mentored toward growth and learning opportunities.

A good mentoring program is usually focused on specific learning objectives, in which both the mentor and mentee receive training.

Many deliverables originate from a mentoring program, including easier talent recruitment, more rapid induction of new recruits, improved staff retention, improved opportunities, performance and diversity management, increased effectiveness of formal training, reinforcement of cultural change, improved networking and communication, and reinforcement of other learning initiatives.

Successful organizations recognize the value of mentoring programs as an effective way to address diversity, manage organizational knowledge, retain stellar performers and prepare for succession.

What roles does a good mentor play?

There are many, including teacher or tutor, coach, friend, counselor, information source, nurturer, adviser, networker, advocate and role model.

Regardless of the mentoring location, highly effective mentors and leaders share some of the same characteristics.

  • They are experienced and respected in the field.

  • They have current knowledge.

  • They are trustworthy, confident and show high self-efficacy.

  • They use transformational leadership skills.

  • They willingly share their knowledge and guide others.

  • They are approachable.

  • They have great passion for their work.

  • They know what, how and when to communicate, and how to help improve those they mentor.

  • They connect well and challenge those they mentor to reach their full potential.

  • They get extraordinary results using a variety of skills to bring about the needed behavioral changes in those they mentor.

BAHAUDIN MUJTABA, D.B.A., is an assistant professor for Nova Southeastern University at the School of Business. He is a former senior training specialist and manager of Publix Super Markets. Mujtaba recently authored a book entitled “The Art of Mentoring Diverse Professionals,” published by Aglob Publishing. Reach him at (954) 262-5045 or Mujtaba@nova.edu.