There's a common thread when I speak with thought leaders in the plastics industry. Most of them attribute a big part of their success to having a great mentor.
Mentoring is more than simply answering occasional questions or providing ad hoc help to mentees. Mentoring is about an ongoing personal relationship of learning and having a dialogue with a more experienced or more knowledgeable person who helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person.
Mentors help us learn from their experiences, successes and mistakes. They can also help build a foundation of industry knowledge and skills and help you achieve the level of success you want.
There are four types of mentorship programs that organizations specializing in plastics offer:
• Formal mentoring: Protégés are usually matched with a mentor by a program administrator or a mentoring committee.
• Informal mentoring: Takes place in organizations that develop a culture of mentoring but do not have formal mentoring program in place.
• New-hire mentorships: Newcomers to the organization are paired with more experienced people in order to obtain information, good examples, and advice as they advance their careers.
• High-potential mentoring: Used to groom up-and-coming employees deemed to have the potential to move up into leadership roles.
While types of mentorship programs differ, they are similar when it comes to the steps needed to create and develop effective mentorship programs: seek out people who are truly passionate about being a mentor and helping others succeed; identify or nominate the mentees for participation in the program; match the right mentor with the right mentee; and schedule meetings for all participants to connect and share their experiences
In a global marketplace that is “on” 24/7, mentorships are very advantageous. Mentors are ready to guide and advise mentees as well as make their career path smoother and more successful. In fact, a study done by Sun Microsystems University Mentoring Program followed the career progress of mentees over a 5 year period and it showed that mentees were 20 percent more likely to get a raise sooner than other employees and were promoted five times more often.
Here's five main ways mentors help mentees get ahead faster:
Knowledge and contacts: A unique benefit that can only be gained from a good mentor is a combination of detailed industry knowledge and personal introductions to the mentor's contacts which may not otherwise be readily available to you.
Insight: A good mentor can arrange experiences which will enable you to get insight into an organization's culture and systems.
Wisdom and learning from past experiences: You can learn from hearing the lessons that your mentor has learned along the way … both their successes and failures.
Improved performance: A good mentor will provide you with valuable feedback or make suggestions that will enable you to improve your skills or to experience personal growth.
Talent development: Where a mentor is an expert in a particular field, they'll often be able to spot your unique talents and make suggestions about how you can further develop and make the most of your talents and gifts.
There's high value in mentorship programs. The sharing of knowledge and expertise in this way, benefits all of the participants and helps build and strengthen an organization's competitive standing.
David Peterson is a managing partner and the director of Direct Recruiters Inc.'s plastics division.