January is National Mentoring Month, and one of the foundations of Great West’s training and development program is to assign all of our new employees a company mentor. We asked a few of our go-to mentors and recent protégés for their feedback about how to get the most out of a mentorship relationship. Here is what they had to say.
From the Protégés
Tony, Deputy General Counsel
The most helpful part of my mentorship was being able to discuss the challenges that come with navigating a new corporate environment—learning the culture, work dynamics, and values. I also gained a better understanding of the different departments and how each one plays a role in our company objectives. These were insights I wouldn’t understand if my source of learning about the company was solely within the confines of my department. Having a mentor helped give me a bigger picture.
The best advice I can give to a new protégé is to keep in contact, be intentional with conversations, and be willing to ask questions, even if you feel like you should already know the answer. That’s the only way you’ll learn.
Erica, Customer Service Representative
My mentor was always there to lend an ear or answer a question whenever needed. Our company’s digital chat program was a wonderful resource when remotely training and getting to know my mentor. Even though it wasn’t your typical mentorship environment due to our remote working status, I believe we made the best of a unique situation. I look forward to the day when we get back to the office so we can get to know one another in person.
From the Mentors
Mark, Manager, Product Compliance
There is not an exact formula for a successful mentorship. Instead, it is all about having open and supportive communication, developing the relationship, and finding out what the protégé needs. If I am able to provide what the protégé needs, then I consider it to be a success!
Steve, Vice President, Data and Analytics
At the start of a new mentorship, it is a good idea to ensure you both understand that this is not a manager-employee relationship. Being able to set that expectation and letting them know that they don’t have to check in with a status report of their work helps them to begin to understand what direction the relationship should go.
For someone who is new to the town, they might need more of a friendship to help them acclimate to the area and the company culture. Protégés who are familiar with the area but new to the company might need help understanding the company culture and department dynamics. Lastly, you may have a protégé who is in a new role from an internal transfer or promotion, so topics of discussion might lean more towards making contacts in their new department and talking through challenges they might face. Whatever the case, the mentor is there to be someone outside of the protégé’s department to discuss ideas, questions, or concerns.
Brian, PDC Claims Adjuster
One of my favorite quotes for mentoring is from John Quincy Adams: “If your action inspires other to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.”
Here are three of my tips for creating a successful mentorship relationship.
- Be committed - One of the most important elements for a successful mentorship is a commitment on part of both the mentor and mentee. Mentoring takes time and energy from both participants. Each should be dedicated to playing their part and helping to build a strong relationship.
- Have an agenda - You and your mentor should agree on an agenda before your meeting. This will help you get your questions answered and keep you both focused. It also prevents either of you from feeling like you’ve wasted your meeting time.
- Set boundaries - To help create a positive connection, mentors and mentees should set boundaries. This can include when and how often to meet, the best ways to contact each other and what each of you expects from the mentorship. Developing and sticking to these boundaries creates an atmosphere of mutual respect, which is an essential ingredient in good relationships.
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This blog post was created by Megan L., Great West Casualty Company HR Communications Specialist.
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