Published on March 11, 2014
Slide 1: My first mentor was a retired Military Officer by the name of Mike Holder. One day, he came to give a talk to my school to recruit kids to learn to do this:
Slide 2: I was in awe. I decided right there and then that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. But I didn’t that for the rest of my life. But that’s beside the point! So I thought, how can I learn to do that, and where do I sign up? My future mentor said that I could try out for a similar thing, called an honor guard
Slide 3: but that I’d have to attend leadership classes every semester as part of the curriculum. He promised that what I would gain from those courses would have a positive impact, no matter what I decided to do in life.
Slide 4: Four years later, I ended up as a cadet company commander, leading a group of 250 talented individuals. It was an amazing experience, and I later received a nomination to the US Military Academy at West Point. That was a direct result from my very first mentorship that taught me discipline and leadership skills. It also gave me a fantastic opportunity to mentor other students coming into the program. Learning to become a leader and to then mentor others brought me happiness early on in life. Had it not been for mentors like Mike Holder, I would not be here today.
Slides 5‐8: There’s a point to this short story. And that is, mentoring can also bring about the opportunity to learn key skills and achieve something, as well as the ability to increase creativity. The movie and TV industry has used a number of storylines that are focused between mentor and mentee
Slide 10: Take a moment to think about when someone in has ever inspired you. Did they encourage you to aim higher, motivate you to succeed, or share words of wisdom with you? If you’ve know someone who has done this for others, they’re a great candidate to be a mentor! That could also be you! For those potentially looking for a mentor– ask yourselves, “would I want to be mentored by this person?” Now, I want everyone else to ask themselves, “Would I want to mentor someone?”
Slide 11: The honest answer is, you will most likely decide to enter in a mentorship because you have a strong point of reference with an individual. You say to yourself, “I have something in common with that person.” Or you’ve thought, “This person reminds of me of when I was starting out in my career.” That’s having a point of reference – It’s what makes the mentorship feel natural – it’s also a reason people feel happy when they’re in a mentorship.
Slide 12: Now, this doesn’t mean you need to have a similar professional or academic background, but rather a common purpose – a shared goal that results in a connecting similarity. And it’s this connecting similarity with your mentor or mentee that establishes a great foundation and start to your mentoring journey.
Slide 13: There are several other reasons people enter mentorships. People often decide to mentors others because they may have also had a mentor themselves. Mentees want someone in their corner to constantly push them to succeed. If you can relate to any of these characteristics, you’re hopefully in a mentorship now. If not, think about who you have a connecting similarity with and start the conversation!
Slide 14: So where does the creativity part come in? Let me tell you about a study that was done in the mid‐90s by two researchers from the University of Illinois, who found a correlation between mentor support and its impact on a mentee’s creativity.
Slide 15: In other words, when mentors are supportive of their mentees, creativity is increased, as seen in this very complex chart. Okay, so not necessarily groundbreaking. Support your mentee, and they can succeed. Got it.
Slide 16: But here’s the interesting thing. The study also found that creativity among mentees had increased as a result of what’s called intrinsic motivation. What that is…is a mentee’s self‐determination to accomplish something.
Slide 17: That self‐determination is what then boosts levels of interest in work activities, and thus, an increased level in creativity among mentees.
Slide 18: The study also links four things to developing intrinsic motivation: One, ongoing encouragement and assurance. Two, feedback. Three, an open dialogue to voice opinions and concerns And four, opportunities to facilitate the development of skills. Mentors that create an environment with these things in mind, will help mentees gain the self‐motivation they need to increase creativity in the workplace.
Slide 19: Let me give you an example as context. I have a team that delivers a lot of information in PowerPoint. However, it can sometimes be difficult to motivate others in a room with the standard PowerPoint tools, especially when dealing with many numbers. Clients see the science, but they often miss the art. So, we decided to start using Photoshop as a new tool for communication. We had never used Photoshop to build our presentations, so it was new to our team.
Slide 20: My goal, then, was to mentor during the learning process and provide encouragement, give feedback, and address concerns during the development of new skills. After a few weeks, our presentations became visually stronger. It was amazing work! Here are just a few examples.
Slide 21: I want to share with you what I think is the cardinal rule for mentors to follow, and that is to instigate. Mentors, it’s important that you continually ask questions, and provide alternatives in order to push your mentees’ thinking. Mentees will tend to think for themselves when you put them in situations where they have to think.
Slide 22: As a mentor, be prepared to ask the hard questions. Your mentee, in turn, will then learn to look at things from multiple angles. Never tell them something won’t work. Rather, ask them, is this the right solution? Even if so, what are other solutions? Current and would‐be mentees, try and look at things from all the angles and proactively share these with your mentor. It’s an excellent way to show creativity in your thinking!
Slide 23: So, how do we address the need of individuals wanting to be mentored, many of which are part of today’s millennial generation?
Slide 24: The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2015, Millenials will overtake the majority representation (51%+) of the workforce, and will account for 75% of the workforce by 2030. We have a great opportunity to work with these individuals, who seek guidance from managers, executives, and other top level talent in order to grow their skills.
Slide 25: So what does this group seek in mentorships? Ultimately, millennials want help navigating their career path; they seek guidance through feedback, and sponsorship for formal development programs. This younger generation also places high value on a flexible schedule that provides a work/life balance.
Slide 26: Also, when you mentor a young millennial, look to give them give on‐demand feedback. Let them know how they can improve and be better right away.
Slide 27: Not surprisingly, today’s young professionals often use text and instant messaging as a primary means of communication at work, and presents an opportunity to deliver what’s called nano‐ feedback. One thing you can do is send a text message at the end of the day to congratulate a mentee on a job well done.
Slide 28: Texts act as quick notes that provide encouragement when a day may have been particularly challenging or rough. When giving feedback, I personally like to send a photo of my notes that I took during a meeting – I snap a quick picture and send it as a photo message – I can get back to them quickly and it doesn’t interrupt my mentee’s flow of work. You can also give them the classic short, hand‐ written note. Do what works for the both of you. No matter what approach you decide to take, it’s easy to do deliver these small doses of feedback, words of wisdom, a bit of motivation, or just to say “good job today.” As a mentor, this small but significant detail shows your mentee that you continue to believe in their progression, while adding a personal touch.
Slide 29: Above all, the best way to communicate with your mentor or mentee is to talk to them in‐person! Nano‐feedback doesn’t replace live, ongoing dialogue. For those in current mentorships, see if you can increase your in‐person interaction with your mentee. Just two hours a day during a typical work year equates to roughly 522 hours of mentoring. Think of what you can teach or learn during that time!
Slide 30: Sometimes, mentors have a special kind of mentee, called a protégé. I want to tell you the story of my protégé.
Slide 31: This is Marissa Dean. She’s one of the smartest people I’ve had the opportunity to mentor and work with. We’ve chosen to enter in a mentorship to provide her with opportunities to become a leader among her team and among others within the agency. We have an established mutual trust that allows us to work collaboratively yet operate with great freedom. She proactively asks for feedback in order to improve, and is intrinsically motivated to find ways to increase her creativity on the job.
Slide 32: Our mentorship began four years go. And during the last 18 months, we’ve worked together to improve her presentation skills. Today, she’s a fantastic presenter who enjoys speaking to people and telling a story. She continually brings fresh and new ideas to the table that deliver value for her clients and our organization.
Slide 33: Marissa has also realized the importance of mentoring, and knows how to have fun in the process. This is her prepping her team for client presentations – she’s providing feedback and encouragement to motivate others prior to their presentation meetings. And her personal mentorship has brought about happiness in her career and in others. The best part of all is that she continues to surprise me in what she is capable of, and one day, she’ll be in my shoes. I’m convinced that she’ll do my job better than I ever could, and it’s why I choose to continue mentoring her. She’s going to keep carrying on the torch. She believes in mentoring and to me, as her mentor, my happiness is achieved when I see Marissa grow, to become one of tomorrow’s leaders.
Slide 35: I want to leave you with a mental model for five important things that both current or would‐be mentors and mentees can do to become more creative, innovate, and increase happiness in their careers.
Slide 36: For mentors: Find someone to mentor who is willing to take a risk, someone who isn’t afraid to make mistakes and learn from them. Also, make yourself available. Mentees will know you are busy, but if you make it clear that you are accessible, he or she is more likely to come to you with issues they want guidance on or help with. If you want to be a mentor, make the time to be a mentor! For mentees: be proactive and ask for guidance. The goal isn’t to show a mentor that you know it all; it’s to show him or her that you’re always thinking, that you have assessed the situation or thought of an idea or solution, and then asking what your mentor thinks. Mentorships are based heavily on that principle. Also, be willing to listen. If you aren’t listening, then you aren’t teachable, and can’t be mentored. So keep an open mind and ear! Finally, for both mentors and mentees: trust each other wholeheartedly. There needs to be mutual trust as a foundation for growth.
So, now you’re ready to ignite a mentor me culture. With your current or future mentor or mentor, your team, or even your entire organization. Be an example of a mentorship that provides increases creativity and ultimately happiness, in your career and in the workplace.
Slide 37: I leave you with a challenge, and a call to mentor someone. If we are going to keep the fire alive in what we do in our professions, and if we want that passion to reside in those we mentor, then we need to act now and rise to the occasion. Think about that young rising star, or that hard working employee with the potential to grow with your guidance. To those starting their career, learn from your leaders and seek out a mentorship with one of them. Now is the time to be happy by entering a mentorship. And I hope you’ll join me in doing so. Thank you.
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