In Homer’s “The Odyssey,” before leaving for the Trojan War Odysseus had left a wise and trusted fellow named Mentor to be the guardian and teacher of his son, Telemachus, during his absence. While this provides a root metaphor to Mentoring, the book entitled Seasons of a Man’s Life by Levinson, et al aroused the interest in modern day study of Mentoring and Developmental Relationships. Kathy E Kram’s seminal Mentoring at Work: Developmental Relationships in Organizational Life has provided the core concepts of Mentoring.
Modern day employees need mentors as much as Telemachus, especially in these times of corporate upheaval.
Shared Journeys Are Vital For All
Sachin is a graduate of the Harvard Business School and is a Senior Vice President for Sales at a Leading Pharmaceuticals Company. He has more than 20 years of experience behind him. At work, he is mentoring two people who have around 8 years of experience. They are neither in the same department as Sachin nor are in the same function. They are in operations department of the organization. He meets them atleast once in a month and shares his insights into the pharmaceuticals industry, the company and its hierarchy, its values and norms, the people in the company they should know, etc. The sessions are either initiated by Sachin or by the other two people. Sachin believes that this is not a one way road and he has himself learnt a lot in this ‘give-and-take’ relationship with his mentees.
Sankalp is one of the members of the core team at a thriving Start-up in India. He often realizes that people in the organization, while talented and driven, needs skills to manage their ever increasing teams in a dynamically changing start-up environment. He is currently mentoring 3 people, who don’t report to him, on important leadership facets. Sankalp had to build his leadership competencies all by himself and often struggled with a lot of dilemmas with no one to reach out to when the startup was a fledgling one. Sankalp believes that people in his organization should not have the same situation and has taken to mentoring with all the sincerity and commitment to groom leadership talent in the organization. In the process, Sankalp gets important insights into what drives younger, junior people, what are their challenges and what are their aspirations.
This has helped shape Sankalp into a better leader and has also helped the organization hold on to talented yet restless younger people.
Organizations Need To Adopt Mentoring As “Team Science”
Mentoring has been often referred to as “team science” that delivers the goods to all the stakeholders – the mentors, the mentees and the organization. By adopting Mentoring, organizations have been able to develop emerging leaders, engage them productively and retain them for a longer term. It’s time organizations take to creating meaningful shared journeys a mantra for success in the workplace.