The idea of one-on-one mentorship is not a new concept. In fact, this very idea has been around for thousands of years. At the same time, it has been relatively absent from the business community until recently. Mentorship is quickly becoming one of the main topics of discussion when considering the insurgence of the younger generations in the workforce. Sam Eckerson is a licensed realtor and is the Public Relations Lead for Heritage Park Realty. He is thinking about the long term success of his company and future employees by starting with mentorship as the foundation for the winning culture he is building. I had the privilege of sitting down with Sam to listen to him explain his idea of building a culture based on mentoring people for success. Here is what he had so say:
Build a culture on mentorship and relationships. This can be risky because this kind of authentic culture requires all parties to be genuine and vulnerable. In this environment, people are doing both life and business together. A very uncomfortable concept for some. However, the rewards far outweigh the risks. In this type of environment: (1) The leader is hands on with his/her mentee to train and teach them the business in a highly relational capacity; but (2) a very important precedent must be set where the mentor is a leader first. Friendship will develop at a later time as the relationship changes; and (3) the relationship is never belittling. The mentor must take the approach of partnering together with his/her mentee as opposed to working in a culture of superiority.
Start with the end goal in mind. The end goal in Sam’s case is to hire his mentee on full-time and keep them long-term. His idea is that building this type of culture will keep people around for many years. A tall order considering that one of the business behaviors of the younger generations is to be committed to a specific career path, but not necessarily to the same company within that path. A culture built on mentorship may very well reverse that characteristic when there is a significant investment of time and added value to the person. There are also some specific objectives when considering the end goal: (1) develop someone who gets the importance of the character aspect and will be around long-term; (2) the mentee identifies and learns the critical skill sets to do what they are good at and is working to their highest potential in the right place on the team; (3) the mentee catches the vision and begins to duplicate it over time. This creates a constant environment of mentorship where mentees become mentors, then their mentees eventually become mentors, and the pattern continues.
Mentorship is simply an investment in people to help them be the best they can be. It takes time and a great deal of effort. However, the investment is worth the time considering the benefits to all levels of the organization. People feel valued. They are equipped to do their jobs. They are developed as leaders. They give their best effort because they know if they do, the company succeeds and they will also benefit.
By making this investment, Sam’s personal goal is that his leadership/business ceiling becomes his mentor’s floor so he can catapult him to the next level. This, of course, requires a great deal of humility and confidence on the part of the mentor in the desire to see their mentee succeed even beyond their level. Let’s also not forget that the reason for business is to make money. Sam believes that bringing these concepts into his company will create a lifestyle where everyone succeeds, makes a lot of money, and will have even more to give to help others as we are called to do.