Mentoring: Why Bother?

January 15, 2013 | Applesauce
By Dr. Elisabeth Selzer

Mentoring: Why Bother?

*As an organization that places a high value upon its staff, NICS/Oasis continues to strive toward excellence in the areas of staff development, leadership development, and ministry satisfaction. One way we are striving to reach and maintain these values is through a purpose built mentoring initiative. Dr. Elisabeth Selzer, an expert consultant and trainer, is currently assisting us with this critical initiative.

-Stephen Stark, NICS Vice President of School Affairs

Why is NICS encouraging mentoring? Why is a mentoring initiative so important to what NICS is doing?

Mentoring can both enhance the vision of an organization and support individual calling. It can also result in staff members feeling valued and act as a catalyst for significant personal growth.  Mentoring new people in an organization can help with transition and effectiveness. It is not only beneficial to mentees but also to mentors and organizations as a whole. In a successful mentoring program, everyone involved buys in whole-heartedly. To do this, all parties understand and believe in the benefits of participating.

The Benefits of Mentoring
In an organization like NICS, much of the mentoring will have a reciprocal nature to it. Individuals will both mentor someone and be mentored by someone. We can all learn something from anyone, and with some basic training on mentoring skills, everyone can be effective in either role:

Mentors focus on the following tasks with their mentees:  reinforcing accomplishments, expanding sphere of influence, enhancing communication and people skills, providing a way to reciprocate or “give back”, promoting legacy building and allow the opportunity to share learning and wisdom accrued in life experiences, giving focused investment in the life of another, and gaining the personal satisfaction of making a difference.

Mentees gain the following:  an expanded sphere of influence, enhanced communication and  decision-making skills, improvement of time management skills and career development, reduced burnout by finding an integrated work and life balance, help working through ambiguity and constantly changing environments, increased confidence and faster learning of organizational culture, skills, and attitudes, promoted visibility, and an increased feeling of being valued.

A mentoring program in an organization: Gains a recruiting edge through exposure to other organizations,  gives a sense of community, increases participation and engagement of employees, manages stress while promoting higher productivity, aligns the organization’s goals with personal goals of the employees (which may also help garner support for new organizational initiatives and transitions), improves motivation, raises productivity through specific goal setting, reduces turnover and enhances satisfaction (people leave people, not jobs), enhances communication, reduces organizational silos (divisions within an organization), provides a faster and more robust transfer of knowledge and skills, increases loyalty and retention, provides for better succession planning, promotes organizational mission identity, offers inclusion through more positive relationships within a diverse organizational culture.

The benefits listed above are based on a significant number of studies. Let’s look at a few of these statistics in particular:
• The Emerging Workforces study indicates that individuals are 77% more likely to desire to stay with their current employer and earn marked improvement in performance when engaged in a quality mentoring program with their company.
• Workforce Management cites that 96% of surveyed businesses reported mentoring as an important developmental tool.  This means that mentoring can support growth and the accomplishment of future goals.
• In a study done by Manchester Incorporated, training dollars were best spent in conjunction with mentoring, because the return on this investment in training was six times the actual dollars spent —well worth the effort because of the potential for impact on personal and professional development.

We have established that mentoring is a critical tool for developing people in organizations. But what exactly is mentoring?

Mentoring is a reciprocal and  collaborative  learning relationship between two (or more) individuals who share mutual responsibility and accountability for helping a mentee work toward achievement of spiritually integrated, clear, and mutually-defined learning goals.

Mentoring is not a standardized, one-size-fits-all process.
Mentoring is an individualized personal investment.

Mentoring is not a plan for the mentee to become just like the mentor.
Mentoring is encouraging mentees to become all they can be.

Mentoring is not the mentor’s agenda.
Mentoring is developing and supporting the mentee’s agenda.

Mentoring is not giving all the mentor’s knowledge, opinions, and advice to a clueless mentee.
Mentoring is coming alongside another person to help them find their own strengths, grow in their ability to make informed decisions, and perform to the best of their ability.

You have undoubtedly had mentoring experiences already in your life. Think about someone who has mentored you. What did you learn from them? How could this type of experience add to your personal and professional life?

Tony Dungy, winning coach of the Indianapolis Colts said, “Part of our purpose in life is to build legacy—a consistent pattern of building into the lives of others.” Mentoring is a critical aspect of building a legacy and encouraging the development of others. It can be dramatically effective in promoting your personal growth and development, and contribute toward the success of your organization.

When informal and formal mentoring is a priority for an organization, a mentoring culture evolves. This is the goal for NICS—to get to the point when staff members cannot remember a time when active mentoring was not a vital part of their work and life. This type of mentoring results in more information, more learning, acceptance of diverse perspectives, clearer communication…you get the picture!

Mentoring is a key strategy for staff development and growth in all organizations. It is simple, uses current resources, and most people can be trained very easily. The benefits of a mentoring culture at any organization are numerous. First and foremost, each person should feel valued for the unique creation they are. Through mentoring, strong relationships are built and individual talents, skills, and gifts are discovered and highlighted. Mentoring is a strong tool for harnessing passion and encouraging individuals to see how important they are to the organizational vision!

Dr. Selzer is the founder of Mentor Leadership Team, Inc. She is a widely sought after consultant, trainer, and international keynote speaker on corporate mentoring strategies and leadership development. She has also overseen leadership development programs, published two books and countless articles, and is the co-host of a weekly radio program, M.A.D. (Mentoring Across Differences). A lifelong learner, Liz has earned three post-graduate degrees, including a Masters in Divinity and culminating in her Ph.D. in Education with an emphasis in training and performance improvement.

Comments - 1

Robert Koenig on April 19, 2014

Thank you Dr. Elisabeth. As a preK-12 Coordinator of Curriculum, I’ve helped establish effective mentoring programs. So many of us had to learn through a helpful teacher in the classroom next door, or the School of Hard Knocks.

Many times we don’t like State mandates. Yet in one school system, I received permission to proceed with a mentoring program only after our State set a deadline. In another system I successfully convinced our Superintendent that, yes, we could work alongside our State Teacher’s Association to create a helpful mentoring program.

I asked one veteran tacher to take a rookie under her wing. She had become a little stale, and watched the clock until dismissal time. She was rediscovered her love of teaching. She devoted her own time, and even took her mentee to restaurants for discussion.

In our school district I was told there were just no funds to compensate our mentors for all the time they gave. With permission, I brought in our mentors and cooked them breakfast myself.

The sharing is so valuable. Often we have teaching “experts” right down the hallway. Providing the time to share is incredibly helpful.

Please understand that this is a moderated blog. Comments are pending until reviewed periodically during normal business hours prior to posting. Not all comments will be posted.