As Project and Program Managers, we are leaders. Certainly within our teams, but often within our organizations as well. Ideally, if we’re doing it right, our influence is also felt beyond our immediate sphere.
Almost everyone knows or has an idea of what mentoring is. Not everyone has had the advantage of having a good mentor, or the privilege and responsibility of being a good mentor. Consider these thoughts on mentoring in the context of leading and developing project and program teams.
- Mentoring contributes. It contributes to the individual being mentored, it strengthens the organization that you both belong to, and it often benefits the person mentoring in intangible but meaningful ways. It’s the right thing to do for the right reasons.
- In the constantly evolving, educated and highly skilled world we operate in, people will come and go in organizations as their careers grow and develop. This is not a reason to not mentor them.
- Mentoring can center around hard skills and soft skills. Often it is the mentoring on soft skills that facilitates the most significant growth in an individual. Hard skills can be taught in classes if necessary. The subtleties of soft skills (understanding what matters and what doesn’t, and how to apply that in tactical managment strategy, in business or in life) can’t.
- Mentoring is not about doing things for people and thinking they will learn through the exercise. It’s about sharing insight, sometimes resourcing them, supporting and nurturing them, and then getting out of the way.
- It’s OK for those being mentored to struggle and even fail at times. It’s often when things are difficult that growth occurs. Many times mentoring simply takes the form of continued encouragement and belief in the individual being mentored.
- Show that you value the time of those mentoring you by being concise with your interactions with them, listening and applying what is learned.
- We as leaders are never too old, too experienced, or to knowledgeable to be mentored. Opening ourselves up to and considering the ideas of others is one of the most meaningful ways that our experience can be leveraged to the benefit of our teams and organizations.
Mentoring can make a huge difference in the effectiveness and cohesiveness of your teams and your organizations. It’s all in what you put into it.