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Putting a Wicked Spin on Mentoring

November 10, 2010

My daughter recently performed in a special production for the Texas Association of School Administrators that featured the song “For Good” from the Broadway musical “Wicked”. The words inspired me to reflect upon the people who have been my mentors and impacted my life for good and how I can give back and help others.

Once upon a time, a mentor was simply an individual who inspired and guided you. With the diverse skill set needed today, I no longer need one, but a network of individuals each serving a specific purpose to learn from. I call this my Mentor Network.

As I look around the office at the talent surrounding me, I notice that no two people have the exact same combination of talents. One person may be a brilliant writer but lack strong organizational skills, and another is a dynamic speaker but lacks technological skills. With a Mentor Network, I’m able to call upon the best person for advice. My mentoring sessions might look something like this:

• My problem-solving mentor and I were able to work on a troubleshooting issue I was having. Her advice taught me how to analyze the problem, identify the cause and select the right solution. I’ll be able to use that methodology in dealing with a variety of issues.

• My functional skills mentor provided me with some good ideas for managing my time. He helped me to become more organized and taught me how to use pre-planning for meetings to be better prepared.

• My technical skills mentor taught me multiple ways to analyze data in Excel, which allowed me to digest data to identify trends and put that information into a useable format for sharing.

• My job-specific mentor shared information with me about processes, which helped me to understand how all the pieces fit together.

A Mentor Network program creates intentional learning relationships. So as you look at your mentor-pool, identify the strengths each person brings to the table, then tap into those strengths to create a strong network of resources that is goal and competency-centered.

Take mentoring to the next level by incorporating social components and increasing the use of technology to improve access to knowledge in a relational context. Technologies such as wikis, blogs and discussion boards provide access to the unspoken knowledge in the firm. Through these learning portals, Mentor Networks will form independently. As people share their knowledge, they will be empowered to improve their performance while contributing to the learning needs of others. This creates a feeling of connection between individuals and promotes engagement. Employees who feel more engaged and connected are 20% more productive.

These are just a few ways we can improve our mentoring programs and make them wicked good!

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