When one thinks about the benefits of a mentoring program, many business leaders become ecstatic about the outcome metrics that can be obtained from investing in their employees. These include but are not limited to professional growth, career advancement, promotions, and the achievable retention and succession goals. A mentoring program can bring together employees who demonstrate that they are able to be active, practice fully – and engage in successful work behaviors. Mentors and Mentees are usually asked to commit to a mentoring cycle of approximately 6-12 months. The mentoring process can be rigorous and require a high sense of commitment from both participants. So consequently, the end of the mentoring process for some may be the beginning of exploration for others. So we ask, do employees clearly know what is next for them professionally at the end of the mentoring relationship?
The mentoring process has been around for quite some time, individuals are matched on the basis of interests and the potential for professional chemistry. While employees are required to meet with each other periodically, milestones and goals help move the continuum of the mentoring process along. At Coley & Associates, the mentoring solution deployed by our company weighs heavily on the prescribed connection planning activities. These key activities include setting up goals and building milestones that work congruently to lead individuals towards a clear path of professional outcomes and desired expectations. In some cases, however, the relationships continue with both seeking the continuation of a partnership that may include consultations and active collaborations on future projects. These continued collaborations can nurture professionals and allow them to find discoveries about future career paths not yet considered.
Paying it Forward
Other impacts from the mentoring relationship could include a reverse mentoring opportunity. In this relationship a more seasoned executive may now be paired with and mentored by a younger employee on topics such as technology, social media and current trends. This experience can be enlightening for both engaged, and shift individual thoughts about the mentoring paradigm. In other cases, when one has completed a successful mentoring engagement the concept of paying it forward may be a part of the next steps. The happy ending of the “Pay it Forward” movement is when a co-mentor is ready, willing and able to become a mentor to future leaders themselves. It is at this point that some would say that the success of the relationship has been revealed, when we lead by example.
A Framework for New Beginnings
So, whether the goal was financial, position oriented, succession planned, or even a path towards entrepreneurship, the mentoring experience can be used to frame the next quarter of your life. So while busy people enjoy helping others who take action, the good news is that your experience with mentoring makes you appear to other professionals as a force to be reckoned with. In all cases, do not forget that the benefits of mentoring are well known; valuable feedback, insight and support, and the passing along of institutional knowledge is priceless. However, within this newly discovered framework of knowledge, remember to remain humble about the opportunities that may be bestowed upon you in the future. Survey your environment well to determine if the time to move is directly after the mentoring relationship has ended or during the engagement of prescribed knowledge sessions. It is definitely okay to be underestimated in these new situations than overrated in the ones you previously turned a blind eye to.
So, when that feeling of, “I can do all things…”, hits you in the middle of the night, listen carefully to the message, and do not be afraid to answer back. Since you are now facing the dilemma of acknowledging whether you are an achievement oriented professional, or a relationship-oriented one, allow yourself to calibrate in the success that can be achieved by both kinds of ideals.
Through the achievement of your mentoring engagement you now feel accomplished and can aspire to new heights in your profession and personal life. While your relationships and interactions have experienced a metamorphosis, you may also feel your communication ability has been stretched and tested. So remember, your new testimonial of growth from a mentoring experience can be a powerful, enriching gift to give to others on the precipice of change in their own lives, so carefully reconcile what comes next.