Make mentorship a part of every interaction
The word ‘mentor’ has a bit of stigma to it. It sounds formal. It sounds like a lot of work. It’s perceived to be something that only ‘keen beans’ set up when they want a promotion. My experience suggests that you should not overcook it and just use every interaction as an opportunity to mentor and be mentored.
I have had plenty of mentors – not a handful, hundreds – but none of them would ever know it. None of them were ever formally called my mentor and no formal program was ever set up – I just had a lot of interactions with these people and learnt from every one of them. It’s up to you to make sure these learnings stick with you, help build who you are and how you act in the workforce.
I still refer back to everything I have learnt from my mentors – so here’s a few call outs to them from a business many moons ago!
- Adam Wrublewski used to refer to your workload as a whole heap of boxes: ‘You have to keep inching all those boxes along at the same time.’
- Adam Dunn taught me about trying to find ‘edge’ in people you are recruiting.
- Troy Galbraith and Sam Mead, despite their huge workloads, were the best at really being present in the moment and actually taking time to listen and learn about the lives of their work colleagues.
- Jeff Williams was my boss 15 years ago at a company and is now my boss again at his own one. He has taught me to simply make sure you free yourself to see new opportunity every day.
So forget the stigma around setting up a mentor program! The mentors you need are right in front of you. Everything you do in your studying or working environment revolves around people. If you put people first, everything will work out. If you feel stepping on toes and out-performing everyone is the way to go, it won’t end well.
Every interaction is an opportunity to learn. Be present, be curious, take time to really understand the complete picture and always try to learn more about the person you are interacting with.
If you want to try your hand at the mentoring relationship without any awkward introductions or long term commitment, give the Professional Mentoring Platform a go! There are over 800 industry leaders waiting to meet you.
To get you started here are 3 simple steps for you to adopt immediately to kick off your endeavor to be mentored in every interaction.
1. Every day, find a colleague, a friend, or even a family member you look up to and have a really present conversation with them. This involves asking questions, actually listening to their answers, and using their answers to fuel more conversation and understanding.
2. Approach people you really aspire to emulate. This does not have to be in person. It could be on the phone, through email or a professional social channel. Be very open and honest that you really respect them and that you are after some advice. Don’t ask them if they would mentor you, just have some well thought out questions ready and ask for advice/hints/tips. You will be very surprised. Everyone will get back to you. I would say 99% of the time people want to help you – especially these people you already look up to. Just to be perfectly clear, celebs are excluded!
3. Take yourself away for some creative time alone – whiteboards are my zen! Scribble all your thoughts and dreams down and see what you can come up with. I bet you will use some of this thinking in your next work projects.
So, you are now a people-person and absorbing everything you can. How do you make sure you are giving back and mentoring others in every interaction? I have said this before but it needs repeating – be present in the moment of every interaction.
It is extremely easy to say but almost impossible to do. If you are always present, people will warm to you, confide in you and of course be welcome to any input you provide them. If you are ever unsure if your advice is welcome, it’s totally ok to ask that question.
I promise you, if you get these interactions right every day, your ability to influence when you need to will be sky high. Being present means you are absorbing more from each interaction and are then well informed to offer your own advice and mentorship. It’s really that simple in my experience.
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash
Head of Venue Partnerships – Australia and New Zealand | Barcats
Ashley started off not knowing what he wanted to do with his career (and maybe still doesn’t). He had a love of all things sport, which guided him to obtain an undergraduate degree at UTS in Sport & Exercise Management. He didn’t feel ready for the workforce and quite liked Uni life so he progressed to do his Master’s Degree in Sport Management also at UTS. Since then Ashley has managed to combine his passions with his expertise in sales and marketing across client, agency, media owner and tech startup businesses over the last fifteen years. He is extremely focused on people and creating work cultures that breed success. Ashley has mainly worked across FMCG, Media & Advertising, and Hospitality.
He has led activity for brands across every medium – digital, above the line and below the line communications. He has also led activity at various major music, cultural, and sporting events.
When he isn’t contributing to the growth of teams, he is contributing to the community. He’s enthusiastic about sports and has been a member of the Coogee Surf Club since he was five years old. He has been a Team Manager at Randwick Rugby and was involved in fundraisers for St Vincent de Paul, the Australian Red Cross and his own charity events.