Me A Mentor?

“Shouldn’t it be an honor to be a mentor?”  A former training manager that worked for me several years back asked me that question.  She is an RN in a hospital in Nevada now, and had found a person who she thought was the perfect model of competency and human compassion.  She approached her about being a mentor and the person reacted as if she was being fired.

I am a firm believer in mentoring as part of our learning process, so at this former company I was Chief Learning Officer; I encouraged both formal and informal mentoring relationships.  This training manager thought this to be the norm in an organization, and experiencing first hand the positives of mentoring; she sought out this relationship in her new career in nursing.  Yet she was not prepared for the negative reactions she has been getting to find a mentor.

I explained to her that I agree that it is an honor to be selected by someone to be a mentor.  Every time someone has asked me to play that role, I get almost flustered at the thought they picked me out of the crowd of possibilities.  Yet, because I understand the value in the mentoring role I always jump at the offer.  I then explained that unless someone has witnessed the positive results of mentoring, or been a mentor themselves it is a bridge we must build for most folks.

Not only do we need to help people understand the value of mentoring, we need to spell out the responsibilities in the relationship.  Be prepared to describe what you are seeking from them as a mentor, and what the time commitments are of what you are seeking.  I suggested she approach the next person with an opening like, “have you ever been a mentor before?” and then proceed with either your definition, or if they have been a mentor, you tell them you would like to see if they would mentor you.

I’m happy to say that in the past couple of weeks my friend has found a mentor that is “honored” at the role, and opened to learning how to be the best mentor ever.  What my friend did is my advice for everyone today, and that is to keep trying.  Having a mentor benefits both of you, and if you keep up your search, the right match will surface eventually.


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