Its fashionable in the corporate world today to say “I am a mentor”. Well, not anyone and everyone can be a mentor. And a successful mentor is something else. Success in your career or business or being a star performer in your company does not qualify you to be a mentor. Unfortunately, a lot of organisations assign their senior people as mentors simply because of their experience and position.
Corporate Mentoring –
Corporate mentoring, requires many other soft skills, besides specific relevant expertise in a functional area. A good mentor has to have good listening skills, empathy, and a genuine interest in developing talent over a long period of time. A corporate mentor is also a sponsor. He/She can and should be willing to intervene on behalf of the mentee. Great mentors have a huge positive impact on the mentee’s career.
Bindu and I are certified coaches and have been mentors to several people during our long corporate careers. Bindu has been a mentor with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women’s Mentoring program as well.
Mentoring ShikshaDaan students –
We knew that mentoring changes lives. So we decided to mentor some of the ShikshaDaan scholars even as we setup the NGO. In the process realised that mentoring students is a whole another ballgame. We gained a lot of insights as we mentored some of the earliest scholars and now we have a strong mentoring framework for ShikshaDaan.
One of our initial mentees was one of our earliest scholars. We gave him a scholarship to complete his schooling (11th and 12th). When the time came to choose his UG program, he wasn’t sure of what he wanted to do. He told us that he was interested in pursuing a Hotel Management Program because a friend of his was pursuing it. He was keen to join Amity University to be with his friend.
We then asked him if he knew about the IHMs and whether he had taken the entrance exam. He had no clue about the IHMs ! Luckily, the entrance exam date was a couple of months away and he cleared the entrance test. He got his admission at IHM (Institute of Hotel Management), Goa. There is a lot of difference in the fee structure at Amity and the IHMs. Since IHMs are govt run institutes they offer the hotel management program at very affordable fees.
Over the next 3 years, we spoke with him at least once a month, and many times more often because his interest kept fluctuating. We had to talk him out of his idea of dropping out of the IHM program midway to take up a baking course ! Then we had to counsel him about staying in the IHM hostel and not spend money by renting a place outside. He completed his hotel management course and started working. That was a successful mentoring effort.
Arun, a good friend of ours, helped mentor a very talented young lady pursuing an integrated M.Sc program. He even offered her an opportunity to intern in his company, and she benefited tremendously from that experience. Rohit, an ex-colleague of Bindu’s mentored another young beneficiary of ShikshaDaan pursuing her Engineering degree. She not only improved her scores tremendously, but also landed a job with a Google affiliate company !
There are stark differences in corporate mentoring and student mentoring, but for the mentor, the skills remain the same. A good “student” mentor also has to have good listening skills, empathy, and a genuine interest in developing talent over a long period of time.
Mentoring helps and a great mentor changes lives ! Read an interesting article about how to become a great mentor.
Read an earlier article by Bindu – Who should be a mentor or coach?