The biggest mistake leaders make is that they think they know more than the people who are joining their teams and hence feel an urge to manage them.
The approach of management is long gone. Especially with the younger generation making their way to the workforce, the traditional outlook of leading a team does not work anymore. It is important that leaders acknowledge the nuances of the younger generation and the fact that they are naturally good at some areas, for instance, technology. This acknowledgment is the first step from management towards mentorship.
What is Mentorship?
Mentorship is partnering with the younger generation or workforce to add value to the strong competencies they already possess.
Prahlad Kakar, AD Film Director, Founder Genesis Film Production said at the recently held People Matters Total Rewards and Wellness Conclave 2019, “Mentorship is not about telling people what to do. It is about partnering.”
For instance, if creativity is something that comes naturally to them, then as a mentor you welcome and encourage these ideas and then help them differentiate between a good and a better idea using your experience. The key to mentorship is to take one step forward and one step backward and have the courage and the humility to learn from someone who is maybe less experienced but more talented and well-equipped at their job.
Mentorship is about protecting that great idea that everyone else is trying to shoot down. The repercussions of directly rejecting the idea an employee presents to the leaders impact employees’ engagement, productivity and at the end of the day, the business. On the other hand, the consequences of recognizing and backing an idea and giving it the funding to grow are beautiful.
The many benefits of mentorship
The out of the box ideas from the mentee combined with the angle of maturity from the mentor is what can help organizations transform smoothly and effectively. This approach of mentorship will also allow organizations to have on board not only profitable ideas but also exciting ideas that will eventually enhance their innovation quotient and give them a competitive edge.
Mentoring, as opposed to management, also gives the leaders an opportunity to learn and co-create necessary solutions to the business challenges. Resentfulness, however, is the worst enemy of mentorship. Leaders can not make the journey from management to mentorship if they don’t get out of their decade-old silos and embrace the new thoughts and ideas.
Prahlad Kakar adds, “Mentorship is a two-way process, you both learn and teach. In fact, mentors often learn more than they teach.”
As the dynamics between the leaders and the employees' changes, so does their attitude towards their jobs. They make a move from just doing their jobs to actually owning it because they have the required freedom and the trust from the leadership.
At the end what keeps the employee in a job is his/her passion and interest in his/her role and leaders and co-workers who give him/her the opportunity to pursue his/her passion and interest.
(This article is based on the session by Prahlad Kakar, AD Film Director, Founder Genesis Film Production on the topic ‘Management to Mentorship’ at the People Matters Total Rewards and Wellness Conclave 2019.)