SOME LAST IMPORTANT THOUGHTS
Sticking with our ancient Greek theme, Aristotle was a great philosopher, scientist and physician. (Actually, I don’t know if it’s accurate to call him a great physician since he thought every ailment was a lopsided battle between bile and phlegm and most treatments involved a heavy poisoning and a good old-fashioned bleeding.) On second thought, let’s ditch the great physician title and concentrate on the great philosopher characteristic. Aristotle said, “Those that know, do . . . those that understand, teach.” The very essence of mentoring is the transfer of understanding and knowledge. Those qualities come with age and experience. Let’s quickly review some of the big rules for great mentors:
• Be open and honest with your students.
Mentoring is not about building friendships; it
is about sharing your wisdom and experience.
• Give them your complete attention. Honor your commitments — try to lessen the distractions.
• Hand out homework assignments or actions for your protégé to complete — challenge them often.
• Provide examples of your work and explanations of your thought process. Be a teacher and share your good and bad experiences.
• Constantly show your students different resources, books, magazines and Web sites that they would appreciate. Convince them that life-learning is the only way to stay ahead.
• Introduce your protégé to others in your business or industry. Make your organization the stickiest by opening the door for them. Show them the influential colleagues and point out the strengths of others.
Aristotle had one other relevant comment we’d do well to remember in this time of talent shortages. (Remember, the worker pool will continue to shrink, and worse, become more shallow when it comes to the necessary skill set employers demand.) He said, “A common danger unites even the bitterest of enemies.” Change the word “enemies” to competitors and we have a bull’s-eye warning. Without scaremongering or breathless overstatement, all of the numbers and projections seem to agree that an unprecedented worker shortage is coming quickly — an expected gap of 10 million workers by 2010 exacerbated by an aging workforce preparing to retire. Businesses that master the art of building and maintaining their very own talent pools will be best prepared to lead. Recruiting and mentoring new employees can be one very significant weapon in the Brainpower Wars of The New Millennium.
About the author: Chris Traynor, Surface Fabrication magazine’s senior business columnist, is the director and knowledge scout for Whip-Smart Management Consulting LLC., Wayne, N.J. (www.whip-smart.com) as well as a board-certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). Chris has 25 years of experience in the solid surface industry as a consultant to fabricators, distributors, manufacturers and associated firms. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.