by Jeanette Showalter
Mentoring and guidance has been a natural system for tribal leaders to assure the future of a precious resource – the next generation. And today, more than ever, tribal businesses recognize the value of investing in their most valuable resource; their employees.
Mentoring is a reciprocal collaborative at-will relationship between a senior and junior employee for the purpose of the mentee’s growth. While it is not a magic wand, it can lead to greater success for both, including recognition, promotions, raises and increased opportunities. Mentoring can be done in person, virtually, or a combination of both. The entire process can usually be completed in 3-4 weeks.
More and more tribal casinos have joined in support of in-house mentoring programs to leverage the potential of inspiring young employees who are highly motivated. They include such participants as: Spokane Casino, Casino Del Sol, Gila River Casino, Seneca Resort, Pechanga Casino, Viejas Casino and Morongo Casino.
Mentoring agendas have yielded measurable improvements in such topics as assertiveness, self-confidence, problem solving, entrepreneurship, negotiation, time management, critical thinking, teamwork, public relations, conflict resolution, crisis management, productivity, project management, motivation, and creative criticism. It takes effort, specific skills and structure from both parties, and both parties benefit.
Advantages to the mentor: Mentoring is a powerful performance growth tool. It refreshes a leader’s skill set and social dexterity. It challenges assumptions, and identifies areas for improvement. It affords opportunities to review and revise procedures and policies, resulting in greater efficiency. It showcases teambuilding, and is a testimonial to leadership skills.
Advantages to the mentee: Unlike training alone, mentorship affords a mentee hands-on experience; more time for specific questions and explanations; the ability to question what has been learned and avoid what is redundant.
Mentoring requires specific skillsets: Mentors must have a desire to develop others; current and relevant experience and skills; and a willingness to share personal failures a well as successes – both are valuable learning tools. Mentors must be active listeners, providing feedback and case examples.
Mentees must be committed to expanding their capabilities and focused on achieving professional results. They must be clear about career goals, mentoring needs, and wants. They must be willing to ask for help, try new ideas, and adhere to timelines and assignments.
Unlike classroom training, mentoring isn’t passive. Both need to be willing to meet on a regular basis as relationships take time to develop. An alliance must be developed in writing and agreeable to both. A mentoring alliance should specify:
Schedule: When will it begin and end? How long will each session be?
Contact and response times: Who contacts whom and how?
Meetings: Where, when and how often?
Focus: What are the boundaries? What is acceptable and what is not?
Feedback: How will it be given, and received? How often?
Goals: What do each expect? How will each hold the other accountable?
Reflect and evaluate: How is this going for you? What has been helpful? What has not? What could I do differently to make the experience more rewarding?
Review findings: Be specific about what each has learned and gained from the experience. Clearly articulate your appreciation for the other’s efforts.
Although mentoring takes time and commitment, it is one of the most valuable ways to enhance careers and fast track professional lives. It is well worth the effort for participants.
For businesses, mentoring can discover hidden talent and facilitate more comprehensive onboarding. It promotes longevity and loyalty. Replacing employees is costly – surveys have shown that the loss of one employee can cost a company 50% of that person’s annual salary.
Mentoring affords businesses a pool of skills to draw upon to sustain forward momentum, and to recover. It gives its most valuable players a chance to shine in their own right. Every business leader knows that tomorrow depends upon preparing others today.
Jeanette Showalter is a Health and Safety Advisor with 38 years of experience in safety management. She can be reached by calling (619) 462-4469 or email [email protected].