Business mentoring has become something of a buzzword today, and there are many reasons why. In this blog Dr Bill Price takes a look at some of the methodologies behind business mentoring and why it delivers excellent results.
A mentor is normally a more experienced person in their field of expertise. Someone once said, “We need to be careful when others call us experts. Because an ‘ex’ is a ‘has-been’ and a ‘spurt’ is a drip under pressure!” Nonetheless, business mentoring is a great way of helping organisations to fast track their staff into a place of maximum productivity.
A mentor guides the protégé or mentee toward a more advanced level of doing things by connecting them to their networks, experience, wisdom (applied knowledge within any given environment) and specific skill sets in order to do their job better and in more efficient ways. It is also about transfer of knowledge from a level of unconscious competence to the protégé on a level of conscious competence, which is quite an art.
To be able to mentor is the ability to be able to “think out aloud in someone’s presence while paying attention to the internal process of how do I do that so well”.
Business mentoring is about:
- Actively un-tapping competency not potential;
- Developing and fine-tuning skills;
- Helping to eliminate specific performance skills within the protégé’s work level;
- Up-skilling the protégé toward a career promotion onto another job level;
- Furthering their life and career aspirations within or without the organisation;
- A means of support and guidance system to ensure the key skills and knowledge transfer are made in a ‘live’ or ‘real-time’ work environment
- ‘Offline’ help by one person to another in making significant transitions in knowledge, work or thinking. (Clutterbuck 1999)
I have been involved in providing business mentoring to companies within their corporate culture and ethics of work life. In all cases we’ve had to help align those involved in the business mentoring process to their outcomes and guide them in how to do the process effectively, so in some cases the mentors were coached to be effective mentors and the protégés effective listeners and doers of note.
In one of the organisations we were asked to help fast track the process and we introduced a new way of business mentoring. The facilitation-mentoring process model. This is when the company does not have all the time and the mentor needs help in the process of understanding how to do transfer of skills and knowledge.
Here we facilitated the transfer process by sitting with the mentor and protégé and facilitated the transfer process from the unconscious s level to the conscious level in the presence of the protégé in respectful ways. An expert-facilitator has the skill to be able to do this is and the trick is to get the mentor to download the skills from an unconscious competence level to the protégé who is at a level of conscious competence, and to do this in such a way that the expert(mentor) is not slowed down in his/her area of unconscious competence by the download process.
Once the download is done the protégé is then coached to do the skill in an expert way because one has the best practice model and then the mentor becomes the assessor in the process. This works like a charm. The mentor, if threatened that their job is on the line, can no longer hide information because when the assessment takes place the same result has to be achieved and this would be the benchmark of the success of the process.
Other business mentoring processes included that of training existing mentors in the company and shifting them to a higher and more structured and effective level of competence while also training the protégé to be an effective and efficient learner by understanding the mentor better. By training the protégé to become an ‘intelligent protégé’ one eliminates the frustrations between the mentor and protégé in the first place as well.
Relationships and especially learning relationships are never easy in the working environment. We need to remember that we are dealing with people, their future and their competencies, so we need to tread softly and work wisely to gain a win-win for the company and those involved.
Call in the business mentoring experts and grow the process in wise and wonderful and effective ways.