Whether parent child or mentor protégé the give and

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Whether parent-child, or mentor-protégé, the give and take in the relationship is dynamic and changing. As priorities shift so, too does what one of the pair focuses on. As in the parenting relationship, the mentoring relationship shifts with each success and set back, there are no right answers and often no clear course of action to follow – the best a parent can do, and the best a mentor can do, is to provide insight and demonstrate the tools to navigate in different situations; at the same time, it is the child and mentored who guides what’s needed at any given time and in what we learn from one another… taking time to reflect on that, it’s easier to recognize what each person offers the other and appreciate what that means to us. The benefits of mentoring are almost immeasurable and it was difficult deciding how to focus this article… I have a LOT of thoughts on the topic because of the difference that mentors have made in both my professional and personal life. I’ve been lucky to work with really amazing individuals, several in formal mentoring programs and countless other people who took the role of mentor without ever using the label. My career is what it is because of the incredible mentors who shared what they know and encouraged me to grow. I am who I am because of my mentors. By numbers alone, informal mentoring relationships had perhaps the greatest influence on my development; however those instances of purposive pairing with mentors, definitely had more specific outcomes that I can point to as having had significant impact on my professional self. Implementing a formal mentoring program is a great idea for any organization but how it’s done will / should vary according to business needs and goals. The “why” should decide what approach to take. The “why” determines who to include and what the pairings should look like. The “why” drives what training may be needed, and what support and follow up are required to ensure the participants get the most from it. Analysis of that “why” involves understanding the current state and what the future should look like (however simple or complex that vision might happen to be). Before jumping into a formal mentoring program, an organization is wise to clearly define expectations and then start with a project team including a small set of partner pairs so that there are controls in place to ensure the initiative will achieve the organizational goals. Knowing what the organization hopes will come
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from mentoring, mentoring partner pairs can be matched based on experience, expertise, specific skill, individual reasons and objectives for participating, and more personal characteristics that may be meaningful to the pairs or to the big picture. Programs are more or less formal based on what structure the organization uses to define and frame the mentor-protégé relationships. When HR teams are developing a program, we’re more likely to be talking about formal initiatives that require
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