Emotionally intelligent mentoring - Preparing you for the future of work.

Emotionally intelligent mentoring

Growing talent from within can give you a competitive advantage in the market place.

Many individuals in the workplace are unhappy or unfulfilled. Employees who are uninspired about their work seem to be searching for "something else". The sad reality is that this "something else" is staring them in the face most of the working day and they simply do not see it.

I am referring to mentoring: the process whereby one individual helps another to find his or her 'voice' and in doing so also finds their own. People derive considerable satisfaction from helping others. The act of assisting, growing, developing another person not only results in deep contentment, happiness and fulfilment but it also acts as a springboard for the growth of the person providing the mentoring.

It is a sad reality that the workplace is crammed with talented individuals who, for the lack of a mentor, will never reach their full potential or fulfil their passion. It is also true that many others who would achieve the ultimate in self-actualisation simply by acting as a mentor to a colleague will never have this opportunity.

The concepts of mentoring and coaching have existed for centuries and today the terms are often interchanged and misunderstood. Coaching is usually a relationship between a senior business person and an external coaching professional, in which the coach, through the process of a series of strategic dialogues, helps the individual to explore options for the future and think through the alternatives; to discuss problems and make sense of the business and personal challenges confronting them. Whilst there is a great demand for external coaching for senior executives, there is also an enormous unmet need for internal mentoring of all levels of people within organisations. Mentoring is where an experienced colleague within the organisation helps another person to understand the organisational culture and to progress by developing their talents. Not only new employees (even those with university degrees) but also experienced people will, at critical times in their careers, require a mentor.

Successful organisations have recognised that mentoring needs to be a holistic intervention of trust and mutual respect. A person's growth involves much more than work related issues. Individuals need to be challenged in a number of arenas. These would include personal and business life, as well as intellectual and emotional growth. Relationships, social skills and leadership competencies also are high on the list of developmental requisites. Whilst many of the skills required of a competent mentor will be similar to those of a coach, the mentor also relies on his or her knowledge of the organisation to add relevance to their mentoring partner's growth.

There is a growing need for the professional implementation of internal programmes. Although many South African organisations have attempted to implement mentoring programmes, the record of sustainability and success is less than impressive. The main reasons for this are:

  •  lack of training and ongoing supervision of the mentors;
  •  insufficient support and encouragement from management;
  •  no recognition for the additional work being undertaken by the mentors; and
  •  ineffective monitoring and feedback procedures to mentors and management.
Too many corporate mentoring programmes run out of steam within the first few months. Ensuring that they do succeed requires the guidance of a committed facilitator to maintain the momentum of the programme and keep it on track. Those that do succeed provide a host of advantages for both the organisation and the individuals. In order to stay ahead, top organisations are making a concerted effort to grow their future leaders from within. They concentrate on sharing the skills and talents of their people with others so that everyone in the organisation reaches their fullest potential.

But the philosophy of growing from within goes even further than the cascading of knowledge and information. It penetrates to the core of each individual's inherent abilities by creating new levels of awareness, perception and innovation. It is a process which awakens latent or undeveloped talents, allowing the organisation and its people to become top performers.

Effective mentoring programmes result in:
  •  Retaining high-performing valuable employees;
  •  Supporting employee equity initiatives;
  •  Developing leadership talent and chosen fast-trackers;
  •  Challenging mentors' growth and leadership development;
  •  Enhancing existing training and development programmes;
  •  Infusing a culture of self-managed learning and creativity;
  •  Facilitating succession planning and career management;
  •  Cascading organisational culture, strategy and vision;
  •  Encouraging the sharing of intellectual capital;
  •  Expanding the EQ of mentors and protégés;
  •  Building a core of skilled mentors to develop future leaders;
  •  Encouraging innovation whilst reducing stress levels; and
  •  Accelerating the transfer of skills and knowledge within the emerging talent base of the organisation.
However, mentoring skills, like any other skills, must be learned and continuously improved. There is a necessity for ongoing coaching of the mentors to ensure that both they and their mentoring partners get the maximum benefit from the relationship.

Michael Pryke founded coaching practice EQ Impact. He has coached executives on a one-on-one basis to enhance their emotional intelligence and leadership performance. Michael has spoken at a number of conferences, implements corporate mentoring programmes and is a respected workshop facilitator.

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