The Boss as Mentor
The boss as a mentor is a crucial aspect of the growth of any employee. As I always emphasize…the ultimate responsibility for development of an employee lies with the employee themselves. That being said…the boss who is a mentor can take that development to the next level. Mentoring is one of the major responsibilities of any boss…regardless if it is listed in the job description or not. (Pull out your job description and see if it is!) It is also critical to developing a “high performance” work culture because without people who can perform beyond “average” you will never get to the point of having that even if you have the latest technology and are trying to use the latest management tools at your disposal. Ultimately…your people are the ones that have to use that technology and those management tools. Without highly competent employees…you are going nowhere!
At the heart of mentoring is encouragement. Creating a climate where people feel they can grow will eliminate much of the fear that often exists with growth. A boss needs to set a positive tone and encourage their people to grow…constantly! Without that growth you are at a competitive disadvantage. Many people will not seek out growth…or are afraid of the risk associated with it. They need to be encouraged…and…in some cases pushed to grow. As a boss your goal is to drive that growth regardless of how motivated your people are.
Another important element of the growth is eliminating the fear of failure. When an employee extends themselves they are bound to have times when they will fail. If they are crucified every time they fail you will soon have people who are afraid to stick their necks out and take any chances. This can be devastating in the performance of your department because you will never go to the next level with a group of people who are merely plugging along.
Mentoring can be a lot of work. It can also be tremendously rewarding for a mentor. Not only do you get to see someone’s growth…you also reap the benefit of the expertise that the person acquires. When an organization builds that expertise across multiple employees a miracle occurs…everyone is working at a higher level and things just seem to somehow get accomplished with greater ease. As a boss you will look around and soon realize that you have developed a “high performance” work culture in your department. Another reward for you as the boss is that your work life also becomes a lot easier when you have great people who are working for you. In the end everyone wins…your people…you as the boss…and the organization!