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Having a Mentor Doesn’t Mean You’re Not Smart Enough, It Actually Means the Opposite

Having a Mentor Doesn’t Mean You’re Not Smart Enough, It Actually Means the Opposite

We receive many messages from our success-driven society that tell us we need to be independent. We are encouraged to figure things out on our own and sometimes even discouraged from asking others for advice.

While independence, self-education, and personal drive are all admirable qualities, at times we may miss out on opportunities to learn from others who have already achieved success. Finding a great mentor can fill in the gaps and help you achieve more, decrease your stress, and make your journey to success more enjoyable.

Mentor: part role model, part encourager, and part realist.

People in all fields can benefit from having a mentor. A mentor is a person with more experience than you, who can guide you in mastering the key skills you need for your career in a shorter amount of time than you could do on your own.

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A good mentor will let you know when you are straying from the best possible course. However, she will also have the wisdom and patience not to just hand out advice or try to control your decisions.

A good mentor has the goal of helping you become self-sufficient and successful in your given field. Even after you master the skills you set out to learn, a mentor can still provide a positive relationship and be a person you can go to if new questions come up.

Mentorship contributes a lot to personal growth.

Everyone involved in a company or organization can experience the benefits of mentoring relationships. The most obvious benefits of mentorship are to the person being mentored. They can gain confidence and experience in a given field or skill, as well as avoid the mistakes they would have made on their own through trial and error.

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The person in the role of mentor experiences the satisfaction of contributing to another person’s well being and growth and also builds their own interpersonal skills.[1]

The benefits of mentoring extend outside of just the mentor to mentee relationship. With a more experienced and knowledgeable person to guide them, the mentee quickly becomes an even stronger asset to the company. Many mistakes are avoided, freeing up positive energy that can go toward fresh ideas and higher productivity.[2]

To get yourself the best fit, be clear about your own needs first.

  • Be honest with yourself about your own needs and personality
  • Identify personality types and leadership styles you have worked well with in the past
  • Think of professionals you admire in your field that have similar personalities and leadership styles to the ones you just identified
  • Make sure your potential mentor is someone you can see/would like to see yourself growing into

Then, identify a list of potential mentors and review each of them.

  • Identify several people in your field whose success and personal qualities you admire
  • Find out as much as you can about the people you’ve identified before you approach them
  • Be sure to choose someone who is happy and well-balanced in their career, not just successful by external factors like wealth and prestige[3]
  • Approach each person and share your desire to learn and grow in your field
  • Explain why you chose this particular person in your search for a mentor
  • Be prepared to talk to many people before you find the right fit

And remember, having a good mentor is not enough for rapid personal growth.

When looking for a mentor, proactivity and patience are two important skills to have.

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The perfect mentor is unlikely to walk into your office one day without any effort on your part. While this may happen in some cases, it is not a safe strategy to rely on. At the same time, finding the right mentor takes time.

The right match may not be the first person you approach or even the second or third. Meeting other professionals and getting comfortable sharing your needs and goals with others is an important part of the process.

Keep taking action each day toward connecting with people you think might be a good fit for you. The more you connect with others and get clear about your goals, the more chance you will have of finding a mentor that can help you take your career to the next level.

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Featured photo credit: Flaticon via flaticon.com

Reference

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Lindsay Shaffer

Freelance Writer, Artist, Photographer

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Last Updated on February 18, 2019

How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

These days, in a world with cognitive, AI, and extraordinary advances, we have failed at the most basic stimulus: motivation. Why do I say so? Just take a look at these statistics:

58 percent of managers said they didn’t receive any management training as per a CareerBuilder.com survey. Only 12% of employees leave their jobs because of more money. Research indicates that around 80% of employees leave their jobs due to “lack of appreciation”. Due to fear of failing, more than half of American workers don’t take their paid vacations. 53% of Americans are unhappy at work (not engaged). And 1 in 3 are working in a field they don’t like.[1]

Archaic people management and HR structures are the root cause.

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

So how to motivate employees and boost team productivity?

Here are 3 key things that you can do to motivate your employees and boost team productivity:

1. Run Your Team/Group/Company like a Lean Startup

The Lean Startup phenomena by Eric Ries has been socialized across millions all over the globe. In a nutshell, it is a methodology for developing businesses and products, which aims to shorten product development cycles and rapidly discover if a proposed business model is viable; this is achieved by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and validated learning.[2]

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Encourage Your Employees

When you empower your employees (or family members) to do what they deem to be best for a particular roadblock, idea, or improvement, you create magic. You create genuine trust. You enable innovation. The result is happy, inspired employees who feel they have a say in the grand cosmic stage at work.

Note that increasing the competency level of employees and coaching and mentoring them along the way is key. You yourself, need to do the same. Nourish your brain – and get a mentor that will keep you at the edge of your game.

Offer Rewards

Motivation is also intrinsic. The startups I have worked at offered instant rewards — not just fat checks or equity increments, but Oscar-style nominations.

The non-monetary rewards were actually more coveted, and grandiose: lunch with the CEO, tickets to an Obama fund-raiser, horse-back riding with a world-class equestrian.

Compare this to a dodgy, corporate, white-cubicle dinosaur that had a “yearly performance review” where both parties dread the conversation. In a world of instant WhatsApp messages, having a conversation about performance, likes and dislikes cannot just happen annually in 60 minutes. Employees need to be rooted in the belief that their manager genuinely cares about them.

Give Autonomy

Another key attribute is autonomy. Most employees start brushing their resumes and cruising LinkedIn when their hands are tied in their current positions: approval forms, long meetings, escalations, and more meetings. In the world of agile and scrum masters, deliberating for the sake of deliberating is poison. You will choke the very employees that giddily accepted the job initially to “change the world”.

Within a reasonable realm of assessment and deep-dives, trust your employees to do the heavy lifting. Give them access to the knowledge, people and resources that help them directly make the choices that will shape the future of your team, and your company.

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Eliminate yourself as the bottleneck – and interject yourself as a benevolent, servant leader that is the symbol of high-performing organizations.

2. Apply the 90/90/1 Rule

I recently saw a video by Deepak Sharma (a leadership adviser) about productivity and this principle stuck with me. Here’s what it’s about:

Devote the First 90 Minutes of Your Day to Important Project

For the next 90 days, devote the first 90 minutes of your day to your most important project—nothing else. Do this for yourself and your employees.

We usually get sucked into the most wasteful, operational activities in the morning which robs our focus, and steers us into an unwanted rabbit hole. So mute your notifications, avoid the temptation to check your exploding inbox, and scroll your Instagram feed later. Instead, focus on that ONE thing that will provide real value to you, your team, or your business/company/home.

Apply this rule to yourself – and your team. Your team will thank you. Note: If you’re feeling really stretched for time, you can always hack the rule by testing out a “45/45/1” version.

A To Do Scheduling System

Another version of this is to use the Kanban concept, developed by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota. Kanban is a scheduling system employing boards and cards.

The most basic version is a canvas with “To-do”, “Doing”, and “Done” boards (or columns). Each activity or task is a “card” that moves from one column to the other. I use Trello (a Kanban-inspired app) that is a key system for my personal and professional life. It allows me to understand my workload, their priority, and due dates.

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I use importance and effort metrics (scores) for each task to understand what is truly necessary in my life to work on. It negates the FIFO (first-in, first out) paradox that has plagued millions of people. Instead, it allows me to take stock of what is on my plate, and then bite on what truly will move the needle for me, my team, my life, and my company.

With a limited appetite (at least for some), would you eat the veggies, fries, mashed potatoes and leave the sizzling steak? No, you wouldn’t (unless you are a vegan and ended up in the wrong restaurant).

Approach your work with a weighted vengeance – and encourage your team to do the same.

3. Align Passion and Skills to Purpose

The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, and gives you a sense of meaning, joy and passion.

“The most fortunate people on earth are those who have found a calling that’s bigger than they are—that moves them and fills their lives with constant passion, aliveness, and growth.” — Richard Leider

An ace team-member once told me that while she enjoys working for the company we both used to work at, she really hated anything to do with technology. She was more of a “people” person, and did not want to sit behind a desk sifting through lines of code.

What struck me was that she was in that role for more than a decade and had just spoken up. The good thing is she spoke up. She expressed her desire and interests. And it allowed her to get into a role of her liking within 30 days.

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Ask If They like What They’re Doing

If you, or a team member is frustrated, demotivated, or not performing at their best – one of the questions you should ask is whether they like what they are doing. Then genuinely try to help them get to the role they should be in (whether in the same team/company or not).

There’s a reason why 53% of Americans (and perhaps more or same across the globe) are unhappy at work. A butcher cannot be an ace salad maker. Pursue your passion – and help pave the way for your team. Unlock your potential and theirs. You will command and lead a supercharged team.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

The Bottom Line

Sometimes, passion has to be ignited. It is dormant, clouded by busy-ness, buried by wrong career choices, and plagued by non-supportive eco-systems. Some will climb out of it, but we as society — and in the case of business teams — incumbent upon the manager/CEO/leader to foster, grow, and nurture the employee.

Teach her the ropes. Show her the path. Advise him as you would yourself. Let them lead, and make mistakes. Do not fear them, rather make them the leader you would want to become.

For your not-so-great team members, understand that it is not personal, it is just not a good fit. Help them move on to the pastures they would be fit to graze on. Hence, hire slow (and fire fast).

Your team is a reflection of you. Boosting their confidence and helping them achieve the impossible is motivation. Focus on that, and you will have a productive team that you and your company will be proud of.

More Resources About Team Management

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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