Who Mentors the Mentor?

There are lots of resources available to young professionals for building connections and finding mentors to help them navigate the world of work and develop their careers. But the world is changing for well-established workers too. And even recognized leaders may occasionally find themselves in need of mentoring in certain areas of their careers.

picture of a man and woman working together on computers

It’s important for HR Executives and other senior managers to remember that even those in higher ranks, and those called on most often to share their expertise, may harbor their own professional and career development aspirations.

And if you are one of those highly experienced employees, who still wants to grow and develop in spite of having attained every professional goal you’ve set in the past; don’t settle for the status quo just because everyone else thinks you’ve already made your mark.

Here are some practical tips for managers who want to continue developing their leaders and for leaders who want to keep developing themselves.

Keep Developing Your Mentors

  1. Don’t stop asking and offering: when an employee has advanced as far as she can go within an organization, don’t stop initiating professional development conversations. Whether that means helping her deepen her knowledge and expertise within the organization or attain the next phase of her career somewhere else, those who have risen through the ranks and generously mentored the next generation of leaders deserve your best efforts.
  2. Support what matters to them personally: often at the peak of a professional career, the successful executive craves personal development rather than more professional development. If the skills-expanding opportunity your top people seek involves a search for enlightenment, running a marathon or obtaining a pilot’s license, support it. Well-rounded and fulfilled individuals are healthier, happier and make better leaders.
  3. Cultivate a 360° mentoring culture: foster an environment where everyone is encouraged to mentor and be mentored as the situation warrants. If your people have always been comfortable going to the individual with the knowledge they need, regardless of that person’s position or seniority, the habit will carry through as careers advance.

How Mentors Can Keep Growing

You know who you are. You’ve been around the block a few times and have developed some deep expertise in your field. You’re often called on to mentor promising new hires and you’re happy to pay forward the support and mentoring you received earlier in your career. And yet, there are things emerging in the industry and the work environment that you’d like to get ahead of. Maybe you know a couple of recent hires in the organization who could help, but how do you ask those who are new to the company to educate someone they see as a mentor and leader?

  1. Know what you want to know: do some initial research to identify the specific areas of knowledge you want to develop further. Talk to HR about who in the organization has the knowledge and skills you want to cultivate or update and ask for input on how you might be supported in accessing that knowledge.
  2. Seek reciprocity: with or without the help of HR, develop a reciprocal relationship with someone in the organization who can benefit from your expertise, while introducing you to the new concepts and technologies that are effecting the company and the industry.
  3. Buddy up: consider finding a peer who is also seeking to grow and develop. Together you can work to master the new skills you seek or study and discuss the knowledge you’re interested in acquiring. A multitude of resources exist on virtually every topic in the world. Sometimes all that’s needed to expand knowledge and understanding is the right resource and a “study buddy” to serve as a sounding board.
  4. Look outside the office: mentoring doesn’t have to be a “business” relationship. You can find mentors outside the workplace from associations you belong to, activities you’re involved in, neighbors, and relatives.[1]

While there’s no question a seasoned, knowledgeable leader has much to offer the motivated new hire; the motivated new hire also brings a fresh perspective and understanding of our rapidly evolving world. In the midst of constant change, it doesn’t make sense to assume our leaders have learned all they must know or that they no longer need or want to grow and develop. In the midst of constant change, it doesn’t make sense to think of mentoring as a one way flow, based solely on seniority and experience. Who mentors the mentor? In today’s world of work—everyone.


From 360 feedback to 360 mentoring, it’s easier with NetSuite TribeHR

Photo credit: Photo credit: Boris Baldinger Foter.com, CC BY 2.0

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