Mentoring and Personal Growth
Creating a safe environment so you can help with a person’s professional and personal development journey
I truly enjoy and am honoured when I get to spend time with people who want to learn and grow personally and professionally. Last week, I had the pleasure and honour to speak to a group of women about mentoring. These courageous women are embarking on a career journey in the trades – electrical, plumbing and carpentry.
We had a great conversation that spanned an hour and a half and once again I came away from our time together learning something about the people in the room but I also learned something about myself.
Ironically though, if we were to address the personal development issue, the career journey would be smoother and more rewarding.
My passion for being of service surfaced when I heard a cry for guidance, perhaps a cry for help! My favourite comment about “never leaving you on the island by yourself” was repeated over and over again.
What I also came to realise is that the cry for guidance or help came from within. It had nothing to do with the career journey that they were on but it did have a lot to do with their personal development.
Ironically, if we were to address the personal development issue, the career journey would be smoother and more rewarding. I have asked myself this question over and over again and it once again came to the surface. Is it possible that we need certain skill sets in order to be able to make a difference when someone reaches out to us for personal development?
The courageous women all had people that they could reach out to, but they had not until our time together. There was a level of trust that had been established in that short period of time where they felt that they could open up and share challenges that they were facing with their personal development. As a professional mentor, that is so rewarding and yet a huge responsibility premised on a relationship of trust.
Every two weeks, on a Saturday, I host a Meetup group that is focused on mentoring, mentoring techniques and mentoring processes. I decided to pose the question to the group hoping to get some great dialogue going as a result of a real life experience. I was not disappointed!
We had a very deep discussion around this issue. It was agreed that there are unique skill sets required to work with someone on their personal development. There is also the need to know your boundaries as you may well cross over into an area that is better handled by a professional such as a counsellor or medical practitioner.
You do need to hand off to these professionals in the best interests of the person you are working with but you still need to maintain the trusted relationship. Your success in working with someone on their personal development will be driven by your deeper understanding of who you are as a person. After all, if your core is not solid, then you will not be whole and it will be difficult for you to bring value to the relationship.
If we look at the person, first and foremost, the journey can and will be so much more rewarding for all.
A couple of other points that came out of our deep discussion was that, whatever we did, had to come from the heart. The one thing that I remember one of the women saying to me was that it was evident that I spoke and acted from the heart.
That was important to them.
It helped to create that safe environment to have the discussions that we needed to have. It created that learning environment that is fostered on caring and non-judgemental behaviour.
We agreed that some, if not all, of these elements were typically missing from a corporate mentorship programme, as the focus is more on professional growth. Sadly, we are missing so much of the equation for success when we only address the professional growth side. If we look at the person, first and foremost, the journey can and will be so much more rewarding for all.
If one of your employees comes to you for personal development, are you prepared to address this area? Do you have people that have some form of training to spend time with employees that are reaching out to you?
We sometimes lose sight of the soft skills in the competitive world we live in. Provide the opportunity to your employees for personal development (which includes self-esteem and self-confidence). Show them that you truly care!
Can you afford not to?
Ryan McCarthy image courtesy firstname.lastname@example.org
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of The HR Gazette or its team members.