As a manager, I believe you are not only responsible for the well being of your department and its role within the company at large, but you are also responsible, if not legally then morally, to help the members of your staff grow professionally, and in some cases personally. As their leader, you are a figure of authority in their life. They may love you. They may hate you. Hopefully, they respect you.
If you are a history buff, you may be interested to know that the origin of the word “Mentor” is from Greek mythology. Mentor was a friend of Odysseus who asked him to nurture his foster brother when he left for the Trojan War. As a result, the word “mentor” historically came to mean a trusted advisor. Of course, not all of your staff members may want you as a trusted advisor, but for those that will listen, it could be of advantage to you both.
The best managers I had in my career also acted as mentors and teachers to me, and other staff members. They taught me many valuable lessons related to technical topics, office politics, management processes, such as writing a good performance review, making presentations, and in some cases to be a better person, both professionally and personally.
Understand, that as a manager, being a good mentor to your staff members is not totally altruistic. It’s also good for your department, your company, and you personally. Let’s begin with how mentoring your staff is good for them.
Mentoring your staff provides them with the opportunity to learn from your wisdom, experience, mistakes, and general insights. Have you ever said to yourself “Wow, if I knew then what I know now.”? Well guess what, in many cases you now know what in ten years your team members will wish they knew then. Why not give them a head start? This is mentoring.
Mentoring your team is good for your company for the following reasons.
- It increases the knowledge and ability of your staff
- It increases the loyalty of your staff to you, and as a result to the company. Remember the old expression, people join companies and leave managers.
- It helps your department run more effectively, thus helping company operations in general
- Helps you improve professionally. Remember, you are an employee also.
Mentoring your team is good for you for the following reasons.
- At a human level, it feels good to be helping other people
- It builds loyalty in your staff toward you
- It lowers you team’s attrition rate, thus saving you from having to hire and train new staff
- As you get an internal reputation of being a good manager, it will be easier for you to find and hire internal candidates
- If your staff is happy and your department is running well it may assist you in getting a promotion
- By mentoring and teaching others you will find that you will gain new insights and deepen your skills