Create an actual mentoring culture at your job. Don’t just lip-service it.

Image for post
Image for post

I think the concept of ‘making an impact for other people’ — or having influence, or getting people to listen to you — are ideas that we sometimes reserve for professors, or authors, or ‘thought leaders,’ or CEOs, or motivators. In fact, these concepts should be front-and-center in our lives — no matter who we are — day-in and day-out. I don’t care if you’ve never volunteered a millisecond of your life and utterly despise people; because human beings are social animals, you’re going to hit a point where you need to make an impact for someone else, or someone else will make an impact on you.

The next logical question is: how does that happen?

Obviously it takes a lot of forms, but mentoring is a concept I want to explore here. I’ve written about mentoring a few times before — this post about how mentoring isn’t the same thing as managing, and this post about how the whole concept of mentorship may be dead. This is a big deal for me. I feel like I’ve had people who have influenced me, yes, but I’ve never had any kind of “mentor,” no — and definitely not in the business context. My career, and professional arc, might be a little bit further along if I had. (Well, maybe.)

So, how do you make an impact for other people in a mentoring capacity then?

12 Ways To Make A Mentoring Impact

I started with this Hubspot blog post on ’12 Ways To Make A Positive Impact On Others.’ Quick side note: Hubspot is a good example of a brand that often writes off-brand — i.e. what they’re selling is a content strategy and a CRM, not some motivational fluff about mentoring — and yet, it makes sense. Most mid-level managers would screech about “brand impact” as opposed to realizing the impact of a good ‘how to win friends and influence people’ post. Hubspot seems to ‘get it.’

Anyway, here are the 12 ways they list:

That’s a very good list, IMHO. In a personal context, all these can be successful. It seems a bit overwhelming to achieve this many things as regards another person, but in reality you do all these things with most of your good friends and relationships anyway.

In a work context, it’s a little different. I would say these ones out of the above are hard for many employees and organizations to achieve:

So … most of these mentorship concepts seem to not exist in a good percentage of workplaces.

Why Is Mentorship Hard At Work?

I’d argue a few points here, quickly:

How Can We Create Stronger Bonds And Mentorships At Work?

I think it starts with two central concepts:

In terms of understanding why it’s valuable, there is documented research on social capital at work and the power of friends at work. So we’ve done some background there.

Image for post
Image for post

In terms of modeling why it’s important, unfortunately this does begin with senior leadership. Many companies are ‘Monkey See, Monkey Do.’ This isn’t necessarily a bad thing — it gets people in line and focused on production. But if the ‘Monkey See’ aspect is all people breathlessly analyze growth and revenue, then we believe that’s all that matters. People, and things like human connection? They become less important. That’s bad, because remember — your products and processes might make you money, but your people still matter.

So really we need this double whammy:

Those are the two building blocks for this — or, really anything — becoming a priority in a work context.

Is There Business ROI To Mentorships and Relationships?

Maybe not directly, but consider this:

Also consider this:

This concepts here speak to respect and engagement, and while those concepts aren’t on a balance sheet — they’re still very important. If you think it’s horribly fluffy, well, I’m sorry. But think about it this way:

I know that’s a stretch for many old-school biz leaders to see, but it’s there. That’s why engagement issues became so en vogue in the last few years. It’s because we all know there is a tie to revenue, even if we can’t directly prove it. So we come into two camps:

The first camp is denying and trying to maintain the status quo, which is a common human response to any crisis. The second camp is thinking “something could be here…” which probably means they have a bit more curiosity and self-awareness. Again, both camps have pros and cons.

The ability to develop a culture of strong relationships and potential mentorships, though, lies at the heart of engagement. It’s definitely something your business needs to consider.

My name’s Ted Bauer; I blog here regularly and you can learn about hiring me for freelance and contract gigs as well. You can also subscribe to my newsletter.

Written by

Blogging, largely about work and how to improve it. How I make (some) money: http://thecontextofthings.com/hire-freelance-writer-ted-bauer/

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store