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Ian Ferguson: Guiding Workplace Leaders Of The Future

MENTORSHIP is not a new term in the corporate environment. For centuries we have had formal and informal mentors teaching, training and preparing the next generation of leaders. Mentorship is typically defined as the relationship in which a more experienced or knowledgeable person helps to guide someone who is considerably less so.

In the traditional sense it is an employee training system under which a mentor is assigned to act as an advisor, counsellor or guide to a junior or trainee. The mentor is responsible for providing support to, and feedback on, the individual in his or her charge. Many companies have developed systematic and structured mentorship programmes, where the culture is so well shaped that senior leaders understand their primary role to be the development of new and emerging leaders.

This article focuses on the benefits every company, irrespective of its size, will enjoy by developing a mentorship system. Here are the key reasons:

There are rewards for the

Mentor and the Mentee

The mentor, as tutor, increases self-learning and builds personal competence through the simple act of explaining processes and procedures to junior team members. There are many lessons learnt, and skills acquired, in communication, managing generations, problem solving and other qualities passed on via the mentor-mentee relationship. Additionally, there is an overwhelming sense of pride that a mentor acquires when he or she witnesses the metamorphosis of fledging leaders.

It fosters a

Multi-Generational

Company Culture

As mentor and mentee develop their own relationship, they help create and perpetuate a positive company culture that combines the best qualities of these individuals regardless of their age. Most workplaces are still struggling with bringing together the four generations in the workplace. Mentorship helps combine 'Boomer Leaders' with 'X- Managers' and emerging and talented 'Millennials'. Each has something to learn from the other.

It helps in Connecting an

Expansive Network

Another reason why it helps to have a mentor is that it connects the mentee to a professional network to which he might never have been exposed. Personal introductions are powerful career collateral, especially for someone just starting out. But a mentor can also write a recommendation for their mentee's LinkedIn profile for all the world to see. And he can send out invites to corporate training, employee mixers and industry conferences that will help his protégé connect to the right people. Leaders must consistently open doors of opportunity for those they mentor.

Reducing Stress and

Anxiety

Having a reliable sounding board in the office can reduce job anxiety and stress, and every leader should have an understudy specially handpicked to filter thoughts, ideas and suggestions through. We all make mistakes and do not always meet our own goals. When that happens in work, it can be extremely worrisome. A mentor can help you see the bigger picture, help make you understand that a single mistake is not going to cost you your career, and can help you improve what you do in the workplace so those mistakes become less and less.

• NB: Ian R. Ferguson is a talent management and organisational development consultant, having completed graduate studies with regional and international universities. He has served organsations, both locally and globally, providing relevant solutions to their business growth and development issues. He may be contacted at tcconsultants@coralwave.com

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