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Ask the Expert – Mentoring

By: Ted Miller, HMCC, CHME, CHSP, CGTP, CGMP | Jul 25, 2017

Question:  We have some new staff that joined our organization fresh from college. While they are quite intelligent, they have limited business experience. How would you suggest we help them “Learn the Ropes” so they are more valuable to us quickly?

Answer: One of the best ways to help any new staff grow within the organization is to assign a mentor to them. Now the choice of who you assign is critical, as they must be able to communicate in the same manner as the new hire, which means they must understand the difference in generation expectations. While you may have many senior staff who are quite knowledgeable, they may not be able to teach what they know if they do not communicate the same way. You can also use someone who is of a much younger age group to help a senior staff member deal with issues that are very new to them.

Question: During my career I feel I have learned a lot, however, I need someone to help me better organize what I do and how I approach problems and tasks. Is it appropriate for me to ask someone to be my mentor?

Answer: Recognizing that you need guidance to be successful is very important. It is very appropriate to ask someone to be your mentor, however, you need to be prepared to discuss with them very specific areas where you want their guidance.  First prepare a list of the skills you want to improve or need to learn and how those things will help you grow. Make a point to list after each item at least three people you feel can help you. While you may have someone in mind, you need to confirm that your proposed mentoring choice can help you in each area. It is not uncommon to have more than one individual helping you. With your list complete now, you can approach your mentoring choice with a specific list of things you want to accomplish with their help.

Question: One of my staff joined our organization a year ago and showed great promise from the beginning, however, they fallen off in their productivity in recent months. Many times I see him with an exasperated look on his face. What would be the best way to offer help?

Answer: It is not unusual for a new staff member to work very hard in the beginning and then have their productivity drop off. Many times the excitement of a new position pushes people to excel in their work. However, after time, many people either get bored with their position or need an additional challenge to get them motivated. You may also find they need help and just are not sure how to ask for it. Let me suggest that you approach this individual in a neutral setting such as during lunch in an offsite location. Make a point to tell them that you saw the original enthusiasm they had and that they seem frustrated right now. If you make a point to then ask them if you can offer help in specific area, this may be just what this individual needs. Since many people are afraid to ask for help, you approaching them with an offer to be their mentor can make a big attitude adjustment for them. Make sure though that if you want to get involved with another staff member as their mentor that you are committed to giving them the time they need for as long as they need it.

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