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  • Writer's pictureRobert Stevenson


Robert Stevenson Blog - Mentoring should work both ways

A while back I had the opportunity to work for a company that, in my opinion, is doing it right. They understand the importance of teamwork, camaraderie, and creating a sense of pride for everyone working at their organization. One thing they are doing that is helping to create their “One For All” culture is having a mentoring program for every new employee. Now, some people would assume that the older, more experienced person is mentoring the younger, less experienced person; if that is what you are thinking, you are half right.

I don’t know if you are familiar with the expression, “Rubbing-off on you,” but I feel, that is what is happening in their mentoring program. The expression means: you are gaining information, knowledge, wisdom or characteristics from somebody else that you are around a lot. I personally feel mentoring works both ways. There is no rule that says the “Mentor” can’t learn anything from the “Mentee” … that is, in fact, quite the contrary. Singer, songwriter, producer, actor and winner of seven Grammy’s, Mr. Phil Collins, once said: “In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.” What a great explanation for what can happen in a properly managed mentoring program.

New, younger employees show up with an excitement and exuberance, all fired up, ready to conquer the world, looking for challenges and a chance to prove themselves. They are also very accustomed to working with technology, having used it all their life. Wouldn’t it be great to have all that excitement and exuberance “Rub-Off” on your more seasoned employee? Wouldn’t it be nice to have that young employee’s knowledge of the internet, social media and techno devices “Rub-Off” on them as well? Absolutely!

It’s very likely that older employees usually behave more responsibly, having learned the hard way what happens when you fail to show up on time, act inappropriately, mess up on a project, or forget to check out all the details in a report. They have lived through and survived mistakes, recessions, bad sales years, tough bosses, failures, lost clients, upset clients, and poor decisions. Wouldn’t it be great to have all those years of experience from the mentor “Rub-Off” on your new employee and help to shorten their learning curve, so they can pick up all the tricks, knowledge, and short cuts while avoiding simple mistakes that only experience can teach you? Absolutely!

AND, wouldn’t it be great to have a sense of camaraderie “Rub-Off” on both employees … and an appreciation for the value they both bring to the company? Absolutely! It is important to understand that we can all learn from each other, regardless of our age or experience. But the only way you are going to build teamwork, camaraderie, and a sense of pride for everyone working at your organization is by creating programs that force people to get out of their “Cliques,” so they have contact with different levels of experience, skills and talent. Some companies even have senior managers once a year (for a week) do different entry level jobs, just to see what is really going on with their company and to appreciate what other people do to help make their company successful.

In this company the “Mentor and Mentee” were both required to write a report on what they had learned from each other. This wasn’t a one-sided affair; senior management wanted them both to gain from the experience. A definite Win-Win in my book.

Benjamin Franklin once stated: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” There is no “Rubbing-Off” accomplished in a memo. “Rubbing- Off” comes from being shoulder-to-shoulder, face-to-face, doing it together, and feeding-off of each other.

And RememberMentoring Should Work Both Ways


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