THE MAGAZINE

Making the Most of Mentoring

By James Carsey

Flash mentoring is meant to appeal to busy executives who want to mentor but lack the time to do so even on a short-term basis. Flash mentoring allows these business leaders to impart some of the wisdom they have gathered throughout their careers to a group of interested mentees. Typically a single session, lasting about one hour, takes place in an informal setting.

The same concept can be used at any level of an organization where mentors may be short on time, but not on knowledge and perspective.

Short term. Short-term mentoring usually involves a mentor and mentee discussing how to respond to unexpected business problems or employment issues that come out of left field, and usually takes place in informal meetings. The individual may not need the ongoing support of a mentor but does require a short-term relationship to remedy a situation or to make a key decision having to do with career and personal development.

As an example, a security manager at a small independently owned hotel unexpectedly received a job offer from a large hotel chain. The offer could have a huge impact on his professional career and personal life. The magnitude of the potential change left the manager unable to weigh the issue effectively. He sought out the help of a veteran security director at another hotel.

Through the veteran’s guidance, the security manager was able to outline the pros and cons of the offer, as well to explore his own strengths, weaknesses, and personal needs. Key among the issues that mentee and mentor discussed was the size of the hotel company that had made him the offer. The mentor had some experience in this that he could share from a detached perspective and could use short-term mentoring to help the mentee think rationally and remain levelheaded. Another was the requirement of extensive travel. Ultimately, the mentee realized that he worked best in independently owned hotels where his responsibilities were varied. The corporate structure and substantial travel made the proposed position incompatible with the security manager, and he respectfully declined the offer.

Long term. Long-term mentoring assists the protégé in overall career navigation. These types of mentors are sometimes referred to as “life” mentors and are usually outside of the company—possibly alumni of the organization, such as retired executives or managers—who have a unique ability to help the mentee visualize the arc of his or her career.

For example, an associate loss prevention manager in a large department store chain wasn’t attaining what she wanted from her career. Prior to her job in retail loss prevention, she had worked in airport security and later made the transition into retail. While managing a loss prevention department, she began feeling bored and un­happy in her job. Her retail organization sponsored a mentoring program and she decided to enter it in the hope of alleviating the negativity.

At enrollment, she was paired with a loss prevention executive who had a solid reputation and a sterling work ethic. Through their conversations, the junior manager discovered that she did have a passion for security and loss prevention but that it was clouded by lofty aspirations, unorganized endeavors, and an interest in several different areas within security and loss prevention.

After deciding that she did indeed wish to further her career in loss prevention, the mentoring sessions focused on the development of 30-, 60-, and 90-day action plans to move her forward in the workplace by focusing on short- and longer-term goals. After these were met, the mentor recommended that she increase the plan to one-, three-, and five-year outlooks, giving her a roadmap she needed to steer her career.

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