In this series, Bob Morris poses a key question and then responds to it with material from one or more of the business books he has reviewed for Amazon and Borders.
First, a distinction must be made between a formal mentoring program in which someone is assigned (or retained) to work with one or more associates and an informal mentoring program that involves on-the-job assistance. Formal mentoring has specific objectives, scheduled interaction, and evaluation; informal mentoring can occur anywhere, anytime, for whatever reason, on an as-needed basis.
The Pareto Principle (i.e. “80-20”) seems to have almost unlimited applications in the business world. In most organizations, approximately 20% of the workers receive about 80% of their supervisors’ attention. Most of the issues involve unsatisfactory performance and/or poor attitude and/or inappropriate behavior. One result is that other workers who are conscientious and productive often feel neglected, resent it, and usually leave for a position elsewhere. Given that, several experts believe that that the primary focus of a formal mentoring program should be on them, on high-performance, high-potential people.
Of course, everything begins with recruiting, interviewing, and hiring. Organizations could avoid many (most) “people problems” if they were to hire only those with impeccable character, compatible values, natural talent, and relevant experience. If there are position-specific skills that need be strengthened, provide training. When looking for people to hire, here’s Warren Buffett’s advice: “You look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.”
1. Understand the differences between formal and informal mentoring.
2. Hire only those who possess impeccable character, compatible values, natural talent, and relevant experience.
3. Use formal mentoring to “grow” high-performance, high-potential workers.
4. Meanwhile, encourage and support informal learning at all levels and in all areas throughout the organization.This will also help to identify candidates for formal mentoring.
Growing Great Employees: Turning Ordinary People into Extraordinary Performers
What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful
Marshall Goldsmith with Mark Reiter
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High
Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler
Comments, questions, requests, or suggestions? Please share them. They will be most welcome and I thank you for them. Best regards, Bob