The Importance of Job Mentoring
Brandon M. Olar
Athens State University
Job mentoring is a highly important tool in developing a successful working relationship or productive work environment. There are several things to consider when it comes to job mentoring. Various mentoring models exist; however, there are certain key factors that will affect, either positively or negatively, whatever model is used. Age, gender, personality, even technology, can contribute to the success or failure of the mentoring relationship.
Job mentoring is a crucial component in any successful working relationship or successful business. Whether it means helping out a brand new employee, teaching an existing employee something new such as an updated program, or even something that will help them obtain a promotion, mentoring is the path to take. With the technology that we have in today’s work force, it is important to know how to properly work with that technology. Therefore, we have to work with one another and help each other to achieve the full potential of all the upcoming and advancing technology. There are several things to consider when it comes to job mentoring. One must know where they stand in the work place. If they are in a management position, they should know that job mentoring will consist of constructive criticism. The gender and age of a person also affects how someone will help with job skills. One has to consider possible problems that may arise out of job mentoring. Finally, the amount of mentoring should also be a consideration.
The first topic that should be examined when taking job mentoring into consideration is knowing exactly where one stands in the work place. In the work place, relationships tend to naturally develop between persons of any position. It is up to the employees whether or not they nurture those friendships. As stated by Kahle-Piasecki (2011), “Relationships at work can be both productive and unproductive, filled with animosity or admiration, and can foster friendships that go beyond the workplace lasting long into other careers and employers. One type of relationship that can be very beneficial in the workplace, even advancing an individual’s career, is the mentoring relationship.” Mentoring relationships involve a more experienced individual taking a subordinate under their wings, and showing them how to perform the job more satisfactorily than before. If an individual is in a management position, they should be able to analyze their behavior in an effective manner to judge what needs to be said or done when mentoring a subordinate. Utilization of constructive criticism, or the act of offering information, opinions, and methods – both negative and positive – in such a way that helps the employee better themselves without being harsh or putting them down, is important for effective mentoring. Other factors that the mentor and mentee should take into consideration are the amount of time the worker being mentored has spent at the job. Should the employee know more than they know, or are they progressing at a normal pace? Are they familiar with multiple positions? Also, what are the qualifications for the individual related to promotions?
When in a management position, there are several factors that an individual should consider. They should be aware that everyone has their own personality; therefore, everybody has the need to be treated according to their own needs. A manager needs to understand that, in some situations, people can mix their emotions with their work, or bring their problems from home into the workplace. As previously mentioned, a model manager needs to be aware of how to properly instruct their employees with constructive criticism.
There are three types of model behaviors that a manager can possess. The first model is the coaching model. The coaching model should be adapted when the employee meets at least 70% of the following traits: a strong performer; requires low level supervision; utilizes time effectively; assumes a high level of accountability; exhibits a high level of energy; has high potential for career mobility; is an effective team player; can be trusted with responsibility; and assumes a high level of initiative. This model generally requires little mentoring, but instead needs more of a motivational factor.
The next model that will be discussed is the mentoring model. Kahle-Piasecki (2011) states that “Unlike the situation with the coaching model, employees who fit 70% or more of the [following] conditions require a mentoring relationship with their manager that provides close supervision to address skill, knowledge, or ability deficiencies.” The following are traits that are apparent when an employee needs the mentoring model: exhibits standard or average performance on a continuous basis; has the potential to improve, but needs experience; not yet meeting performance standards; requires specific instruction to gain necessary skill/knowledge in areas; requires moderate to close supervision; has difficulty assuming higher levels of responsibility due to lack of knowledge or experience; unable to achieve improvement with his or her own initiative; requires a manager or supervisor side-by-side to bring out significant performance improvement; and needs to demonstrate improvement in selective areas to be retained on the current job.
The last modeling behavior that a manager can exhibit is the counseling model. This model generally refers to an employee’s attitude or behavior problems or lack thereof. The counseling model strategy should be utilized by a manager if any of the following behaviors are exhibited by an employee: consistently below the department’s average performance expectancies on most or all tasks; exhibits behavioral or emotional problems that affect not only the individual’s performance, but that of other team members; repeatedly violates work rules or company policies; unable to provide self-management; has not experienced supervisory intervention; or requires a final attempt by supervisor even though previous interventions with employee have not been successful.
The third aspect dealing with job mentoring that should be considered centers on an employee’s age and sex. Does gender or age really affect job mentoring? According to Leck (2009), “Contrary to expectations, men and women employ similar decision criteria in the decision to seek a mentor.” Men are actually more likely to seek out a mentor when they value increased autonomy. Attitudes can greatly influence the behavior of genders on job mentoring. Attitude generally refers to a combination of particular supposed outcomes, and the behavior and the likelihood of each outcome occurring. The second factor is subjective norms. When referring to subjective norms, the important aspect is the impact of opinions of other individuals who are important in the decision making process. The third and final factor when dealing with gender roles in mentoring is perceived control. Perceived control is the individual’s ability to acknowledge the level of difficulty in obtaining a mentor. As stated by Leck (2009), “Contrary to expectations, the factors that motivate the decision to seek a mentor did not differ by gender. The dominant anticipated outcomes that motivate individuals to seek a mentor were associated with psychosocial support (e.g., personal support, acceptance, having a confidant, trust, and friendship).”
Regardless of the gender of the mentee, both the mentor and the mentee have to understand that risks and problems potentially can arise from job mentoring. Expectations and objectives can be miscommunicated or misunderstood by either party. There has to be an understanding that the mentoring reflects the culture of the business. An individual may feel that he or she should have a choice as to whether or not they need to be mentored. Forcing mentoring upon an individual might make a situation turn into a hostile work environment. When there is change, it might be complicated to find a mentor that can adapt and relay the information in a timely and effective manner.
Pairing a Mentor and Mentee
When pairing a mentor and mentee, it is important to evaluate their personalities, and to understand that there are several different mentoring behaviors. The first behavior to be recognized is “The Fixer.” These individuals are typically self-centered and do not want to accept help from a mentor. The second behavior that is frequently displayed is “The Bureaucrat.” This type of individual usually tends to be very rule obedient and too controlling to be able to learn different approaches. A third common behavior is “The Pleaser.” This type of person avoids confrontational communication, and does not have typical work relationships. The last widely known behavior is “The Talker.” This type of individual usually has very active listening skills, and almost always provides feedback.
Along with understanding the type of mentor and mentee relationship in a pair, the person doing the pairing must also realize the amount of mentoring that is necessary for the individual. Continuous learning is something that should be stressed in every work environment. Continuous learning refers to the capacity to being open to new ideas, as well as accepting mistakes and errors in the learning process. Several key factors contribute to a well-established learning environment. Some of these factors include openness, or an individual’s ability to accept new ideas and new methods; opportunities to learn new tasks and/or new positions; supporting co-workers to have a strong team foundation; expectations to always better oneself; support from management and the upper echelon; an ability to tolerate mistakes when learning new tasks and materials; a realization that in real time environments, there may be lack of materials, supplies, support, and/or equipment; the ability to assign individuals to specific tasks as to avoid continual mistakes; and being aware of “the big picture”, or the organization’s long term goals and endeavors.
Another way to effectively pair mentor to mentee is through implementation of the cognitive style. Cognitive style can be described as “the left brain/right brain analogy. A person who has a dominant left-brain or cerebral hemisphere will be more analytic, rational and sequential in processing information. A person with a dominant right brain is more holistic and intuitive for simultaneous information processing,” according to Kahle-Piasecki (2011). An accepted test to identify personality type is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, or the MBTI. This test consists of roughly 100 questions that delve into specific choices an individual would make, collectively determining what type of personality the person has out of the 16 that exist. It would be a great tool for any company to use to easily decide who should be paired with whom when it comes to mentoring relationships.
Unfortunately, as with any relationship, be it social or work related, there are always implications that can arise in a mentoring situation. The most common problem is the incorrect pairing of a mentor and mentee. That is why it is crucial to take advantage of all of the aforementioned steps and processes to ensure that the correct methods are being followed, and that a great work relationship is formed for successful mentoring.
In conclusion, job mentoring is one of the most important practices and attributes that a company can use to make them successful. It is crucial in today’s continuously advancing technological work environment for companies to establish and take advantage of a continuous learning and mentoring atmosphere. There are several things to remember about job mentoring to help make it a successful endeavor. Knowing where one stands in the work place is one key factor. If an individual holds a management position, they should be aware of how to properly delegate job mentoring and how to use constructive criticism. The gender and ages of individuals are also key factors in the method of job mentoring that should be considered. It is important to be aware of possible problems that can arise with mentoring. A company should also be mindful of how much job mentoring they offer. If handled properly, mentoring can be an excellent tool to help a company be successful.
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