Why is being a mentor
important? More importantly, why is being mentored important.
There's been a lot of discussion this week about lists. I scratched my head and thought, "HRMargo
, what matters most about this? Why is this topic important to you?"
It's important because I am who I am because of the people who've influenced my life. The people who have influenced my career the most are my mentors. I've been fortunate to have had the opportunity of outstanding mentorship. Great leaders in my industry have invested their time in nurturing my endless curiosity about our industry, how it works, what makes it tick, and who, and what I should be studying.
From the time I graduated college, I sought out mentors in my field who could teach me the ropes in the companies where I worked. I sought out mentors in my professional association. I've sought out thought leaders who are generous enough to spend time with a little fledgling trying to learn the best demonstrated practices in her field. What amazes me is that every time I've switched careers, or carefully selected a new industry to explore, I've been able to find brilliant people. Generous people. I'm not talking about monetary generosity. I'm talking about people who are generous with their time.
A mentor ought to have clear boundaries, and structure how they give their time. When I mentor someone, I prefer an approach that includes the creation of learning goals, and our sessions are focused around those goals. Next, I offer access to my contact network, but not before clearly helping my mentee develop a strategy by which they utilize my (and other peoples) contact networks. Boundaries prevent mentorship burn-out.
Contact networks are a precious thing. Some professionals guard theirs more tightly than others, and they should be treated with the utmost of respect. That is why I guide my mentees to be strategic, to be appropriate, and to leave something behind that lets that mentor know you appreciate their efforts.
Just the other week, I gave one of my mentors the names of two contacts that might be able to use their services. I'm not talking about a cold "hey contact that guy" lead, I'm talking about the kind of lead that was been warmed up in advance. Reciprocity is important, but not mandatory. I like to give back to my mentors as a way of showing respect and appreciation.
If you want to have a friend, you have to be a friend. It's a two way street. Always. Nobody likes a taker, so try to be a giver. The relationship you build with your mentor will be that much more rewarding.
I'm a proponent of compassion and generosity. I've never had the resources to be a huge philanthropist, but I have been in a position to give of my time. Being a mentor doesn't cost a dime, but the rewards are rich beyond compare. What can be greater than seeing the people you mentor go on to do incredible things? I can tell you it's an amazing feeling, and I'd wager other mentors would concur.
During my recent career transition, I volunteered. I learned about human nature, social media, blogging, and recruitment. As a result, I started a blog back in October of 2009. I attended HRevolution
in November, and helped to secure television coverage for the event. I launched a blogtalkradio show in January 2010, Compassionate HR. My goal with this show is to give voice to the people in our industry who are going above and beyond the call of duty to be stewards in their communities. It is also a great pleasure to spotlight corporate philanthropy. It's a passion piece for me. I expect nothing in return.
I've had a twitter account since 2008, but I didn't get serious about it until last September. Then something happened, I started researching helpful articles, and giving back to my community. With the help of a friend on twitter,
I changed my name to HRMargo. With the help of my twitter/facebook friends, I revised my linkedin profile, and my resume. Back in late December, I decided to engage business contacts on facebook. While still focusing on my personal life, I started to behave more professionally (not entirely) but enough that I could launch a facebook fanpage for my blog (Which I did this past Sunday). I already have 126 fans, in just a day and a half. Low and behold, I got a job a month ago. As a result, I'm able to attend SourceCon and ERE Expo. I will meet my recruiting, and sourcing heroes and I am beyond excited. These great experts are also great mentors.
In fact, I'm going to do two radio shows about the ERE poker game and foundation
on March 8, and March 15th.
I want my friends and followers to know about the compassionate philathropic ways my colleagues are giving back. ERE found a way to make giving fun. Throw a poker game at a major conference, invite all your friends, raise money for causes that help children: (this year the poker game will benefit the children who were victims of the Earthquake in Haiti-a cause that is near, and dear to my deep, and soulful heart). ERE, as an organization mentors people new to the occupation, as well as seasoned pros through their abundant educational programs, groups, conference and networking opportunities.
I believe the advice I received from my mentors had a great deal to do with that. A good mentor points you in the right direction. They don't drag you there...you have to do the foot work. If you are a good mentee, and listen, there is so much you can learn.
One more point about the value I've received from mentoring. A great mentor has a mentor. An amazing coach, has a coach. The people who've influenced me the most, either currently have, or have had brilliant people guiding their path. The mistake some professionals make is they go it alone, like a wolf without a pack. But, why do that when there are so many people with their hands extended who are willing to help you?
As I said in an earlier post this week, I believe in the power of community. I believe in the power of sharing information. The number 1 is not a statistically valid sample. We learn more from gathering data from many than just one. It's places like recruitingblogs that allow us to do just that. Network. My favorite saying is you are either networking or not working.
A healthy mentor, is a good networker, and they will teach you how to be an even better mentor.
What do I wish for my mentees? I wish that they exceed any success I've ever had, and become super stars. Even if they don't, I applaud their every success, because a good mentor is a cheerleader, not a brow beater.
I am so deeply grateful for the people who have been my personal top 25 influencers. They will always have my steadfast and undying loyalty and appreciation.
Wouldn't it be nice if each of us could create our own list of the great people who shaped our lives, and published that? In some ways, a twitterlist can accomplish that feat.
Personally, I'd rather do my best to pass on what they've given me, because I know that's what they'd want me to do.