What is mentoring and how it helps business
Business mentoring is a way of supporting young entrepreneurs, which is not yet very popular in India. In the West, however, this practice is widespread: it is successfully used by more than 70% of large companies and brands.
This type of informal learning increases the productivity of old employees and helps to “train” new ones with minimal investment. During mentoring, interaction occurs between two parties: the mentor and the mentee.
Let's take a closer look at these concepts and find out how mentoring helps a business.
What is mentoring?
Many entrepreneurs follow the path of "trial and error" - they did not learn entrepreneurship, but "stuff themselves" on their own. And there are not enough good programs of additional education or private accelerators for businessmen in our country. And without advanced training, growth is impossible.
As I said above, mentoring is a way of informal learning, during which the "mentor" and "mentee" communicate, share their experience and their own best practices. The method becomes an effective tool for self-development and helps:
- try on new behaviors and roles;
- observe the role model and change your thinking;
- learn from your own experience, get to know a stranger;
- find a solution to one or more problems.
The "mentor", in turn, has more experience, knowledge and skills. At the same time, he has the same profession (there is no point in choosing a train driver as a mentor for a designer). Usually, this employee is two or three career steps higher, has experience working with non-standard tasks and projects, and most importantly, is ready to share it.
Even if you are not a startup for a long time, have been trained and have been working in the field for a long time, you can turn to a mentor if you feel a “ceiling in development”.
When is mentoring needed
In short, when your projects need fresh blood, they are just starting up, in a state of stagnation and decline, and expanding. Sometimes it is better to overpay for the services of a specialist than to stay "at the bottom of the trough", not receiving requests from clients or facing a lot of negative towards the brand.
There are several options when it will be difficult to run a business without contacting a mentor:
- You are lacking expert judgment. Invite a specialist one-time or on an ongoing basis - discuss your strategies, business processes and projects with him, listen carefully to criticism and apply it as intended.
- You are looking for new acquaintances and useful contacts. It is thanks to mentoring that you can “reach” the people you are interested in and acquire contacts. They can be used for further professional development or business promotion.
- You have to react to the external environment. If the external environment changes, then it is time to react to it. An experienced mentor can help mitigate the impact of a competitor's entry into the market, preventing a drop in sales and market share. Or create a blended business model for offline and online brand engagement.
- When a business becomes uncompetitive. In order to increase efficiency, a high-level specialist will be able to competently find "gaps" during the audit and suggest options for getting rid of them. It is the mentor who will point out that the design is godlessly outdated, the last time your product was popular in 2008 and will not bring profit. And he will also give advice on how to fix the situation.
- When entering new markets, increasing sales or scaling the business. Changes always cause panic - entrust the development of a development strategy to a colleague with extensive experience in your field.
- At the start of a new project. To avoid mistakes that can be caused by a bad business plan, a weak business model, or a lack of market demand, try consulting with a mentor.
Rely on your feelings and do not force yourself to work with people "from the outside" if you are not yet ready for it. However, it is never too late to try mentoring and evaluate its performance on your own.
When you can do without a mentor
It is not necessary to use the services of a business mentor for those whose business operates "independently" and does not require outside intervention. As long as everything is going smoothly and there are no critical situations, you can relax and do other, equally important things.
Alternatively, you have a friend who makes good money in entrepreneurship who periodically gives valuable advice at your request. Of course, you don't have to pay for his services, which means that you can refuse mentoring. Use it while you can, gain experience and do not forget to share it yourself.
Types of mentoring
It all depends on what the mentor is for, what the scale of the business is and the objectives (goals) of training. The choice of the type of mentoring directly affects the final results of the work done, the role of the mentor in the process and the interaction between the two parties.
It is customary to distinguish 3 main types of mentoring.
The least common of the species. Large firms usually resort to collective mentoring. Also, similar events are held at summits, forums or major events. Groups of mentee and groups of mentors-mentors gather, they begin to communicate and interact with each other.
The most important thing when choosing a collective type of mentoring is to pick up real tools and highlight a specific goal. Otherwise, a business conference or facilitation may turn into lectures on abstract topics from speakers that will not help in brand development.
In this case, a group of protégés gathers with common tasks and goals, and the mentor interacts with all of them at the same time. Who can be part of the Mentee group? People united by common interests, employees of the same firm or work collective.
All sorts of expert workshops and business breakfasts are usually found in large companies. Their task is to spend time usefully, exchange experiences and communicate with like-minded people. In addition, participants can receive advice and recommendations, as well as improve their professional qualities.
Or “face-to-face” - that is, the mentor works with the protégé one-on-one, individually. Such meetings can remain anonymous and take place both remotely and in person. It is individual mentoring that is considered the most effective, which is why it is so popular. During the process, the mentee can:
- continue the mentor's work;
- motivate him to continue to develop and move on;
- share creative ideas and your own energy;
- to implement the mentor's plans;
- support him, help with daily tasks.
The main features of an individual approach are:
- more trusting relationships between the participants in the process;
- focusing on solving a specific problem of a specific person;
- increased efficiency.
This includes, for example, on-the-job mentoring (newcomers are trained by experienced employees) and career mentoring. However, this format is suitable not only for individuals, but also for divisions or companies as a whole.
The difference between mentoring and other forms of education
Let's take the same coaching - there are really many similar features, in addition, there is a common goal: bringing the student to the desired result. However, coaching does not imply "issuing" specific tips and instructions, and the participant's potential is revealed through leading questions.
Expertise, experience and successful cases from the coach's practice do not play any role - they are not even touched upon in the learning process. The client chooses the path to success himself, and the coach only pushes him to the right decisions and helps to reveal hidden talents or abilities.
Accordingly, working with a coach does not prevent mistakes and wrong moves, since they are needed for independent development. Moreover, he may not even be an expert in the chosen field, but simply have coaching experience and some academic knowledge.
As for consulting - here, too, everything is not so equal. The consultant is not responsible for the client's choices, but simply selects the necessary activities and conducts an analysis. Of the similarities with mentoring - a great experience of a consultant, the presence of cases or ready-made projects in the field.
Unlike consultants, mentors set themselves one main goal: to give such recommendations and advice so that the protégé himself achieves the desired goal. This means that they also have a motivating function.
Who can become a mentor
Any specialist who wants to help other people and has sufficient professional experience can become a mentor. Some mentors do not even take money for a consultation, because the development of competencies, the opportunity to share expertise and gain new experience are enough for them.
The reason for trying yourself as a mentor can be:
- simple interest in this lesson;
- the opportunity to gain new experience and be inspired by working with students;
- the seasonality of the business (sales are in the summer, in the winter you can be a mentor);
- desire to participate in the "energy exchange" and help others in the same way as someone once helped you.
When working with mentee, a professional has a lot of responsibility. This can be compared to raising a child - with the wrong approach, an indelible mark will remain on the professional career of the ward.
Lack of feedback, taking into account progress, overprotection or instilling a sense of inferiority will not only negatively affect the professional qualities of the mentee, but can also disrupt his psychological health.
Simply put, a good mentor will only be the person who wants to help less experienced colleagues with various tasks, wants and can transfer their own knowledge in the industry in a quality manner. Not the one who wants to increase self-esteem or make as much money as possible.
Without material incentives, however, it will not be possible to build contact with any experienced mentor. It is worth taking care of a decent reward and discussing it at the first meeting. The main thing is that both participants in the process feel comfortable.
How to find a mentor for your business
In addition to the classic “ask friends and acquaintances,” you can use several other ways to find a mentor (you can use the same method to find a mentor for yourself).
On special sites
Sites of such a plan work very simply: you leave a request, choose a mentor, write off with him and negotiate the conditions. There are many Hindi and English-language services on the Internet for finding mentors in various disciplines and specialties.
- ADPList. An English-language platform used by employees of many international firms. You can exchange experiences with residents of other countries by choosing one of the mentors as a mentor.
- Pair Up. The main feature of this service is thirty-minute video calls for participants. The site is aimed at people with different types of creativity and looking for inspiration.
- Solvery. Service for finding mentors, which has already trained more than 1200 people. The main direction is programming. You can formulate a request on the website, choose a mentor and start classes.
- Mkdev. Another option for people doing programming. On the site you can both get advice and become a mentor yourself. The training plan for each client is drawn up individually, a total of 56 directions are presented.
It can be noted that mentoring in India develops most of all in IT. Therefore, it will not be so difficult to find yourself a programmer-mentor. Having stumbled upon a complex topic, it is much more effective to talk with a more experienced specialist than to spend 10-15 hours on the Internet flipping through guides and manuals.
In communities and channels
Telegram chats, LinkedIn and Facebook groups will help you find mentors from different professions. Many professionals, by the way, blog on Instagram - usually such authors already have a specific "consultation" service.
For more effective searches, we use filters: we indicate the location and the name of the profession. We review the results, subscribe to the speakers we like. After studying a group or chat, you can either write it directly to the author (participant) and ask for advice, or simply place an ad in the public domain.
State University, and other major universities always have newsgroups for alumni. Focusing on the faculty, you can quickly find a community and ask it about finding a mentor.
Just leave a request on the wall / community discussions or join the group conversation (if there is one) and ask a question there.
Is your state big enough? Pay attention to your colleagues: perhaps a more experienced employee with whom you will find a common language may have "got around" somewhere. He, like no one else, will understand you - after all, he works in the same company with you. And you, in turn, do not have to tell him about the organization and immerse him in some small work moments.
It is very convenient and practical to work with a mentor who is your part-time colleague. When looking for a mentor, you can contact colleagues in person (in the office or at a meeting), leave an announcement or post in the general chat of the company.
Or go directly to the specialist occupying the desired position and ask him to "train". A colleague will most likely not refuse if the proposed conditions seem attractive to him.
What to look for when choosing a mentor
Mentoring plays an important role in entrepreneurship, so it is best not to recruit “street counselors” for yourself. You should also not be guided only by a neat appearance, appearance or general first impression - be attentive to the little things:
- Personal qualities are important. You do not have to completely agree in temperament, character and views (on the contrary, an introverted mentor is best suited to an extrovert mentor). At the same time, it should be pleasant for you to be around and talk with a future mentor, he should inspire confidence and sympathy. Familiarize yourself with the social networks of the person you are interested in in advance, watch recordings from conferences or videos.
- Do you need it? If you are used to taking a passive position, dependent and do not tolerate changes, there are two options - to abandon this idea or find such a consultant who will treat you with special trepidation.
- Rate the level of professionalism. Your career path should be similar to that of the mentor himself - for example, if a person was hired for a vacancy by HR-relatives, and you achieved it yourself, then he is unlikely to be able to help you with anything. If you are both out of the same sphere and are moving along the same logic, then such a mentor will suit you.
- Set a specific goal. Do you want to become a comic book artist and work for a major publisher? Then look for an artist who works with a comic publisher as a mentor. The entrepreneur you have chosen as your “teacher” must stand confidently and achieve the goal that you set for yourself.
- Think about how you can be of help. The relationship should be two-way - a mentor who is not interested in the process will not be of interest to the mentor (and vice versa). Experience should be shared "both ways", as well as ideas and / or best practices.
It is desirable that the future mentor has experience in teaching other people, helping and accompanying entrepreneurs. It is difficult for beginners to maintain objectivity and provide methodological support - their advice always "passes through the prism" of personal experience and their own business.
To reduce risks, collect as much information as possible about the mentor, check out his speeches, the company's website, publications and materials. Think about how comfortable it will be to work with such a person and whether he is similar to you in values or views.
How much does a business mentor cost?
Collaboration usually takes two forms: “full-fledged” or “one-off”.
Mentoring in a batch, full-fledged format consists of several dozen meetings. Thus, the mentor works with the mentee for 3-6 months until the result is achieved. Accordingly, one month of such training will cost from 30 to 200 thousand rupees, depending on the qualifications and the number of meetings. The price already includes consulting support and a specific number of calls by video or personal conversations.
“One-off” meetings are suitable for entrepreneurs who are faced with isolated sudden difficulties. Depending on the level of the mentor, one consultation can cost from 2 to 30 thousand rupees.
Is it expensive? Don't be discouraged - this is an excellent investment in your professional future. If there is not enough money, then finding a free mentor is difficult, but possible. For example, if you are ready to provide a consultant with barter services or he is interested in a project (or wants a specific case for himself "in the collection").
How to work with a business mentor
In the first setup session, you will tell the specialist about your expectations from cooperation, plans and dreams. The mentor will offer you one of several options for further development of events, assess your chances and explain whether your suggestions are constructive.
I advise you to write down professional questions that you have long wanted to ask a specialist. Long-standing problems can be discussed with a mentor. The main task of the learning phase is to determine if you are comfortable with the mentor.
When choosing a long-term cooperation, this process can take more than a month. For example, if you decide to attend meetings throughout the year. For short-term goals, one long-term session will suffice.
The mentor should form a list of what needs to be changed, studied, made an object of focus and what skills to develop. Together with him, a development plan is drawn up with large goals, which are broken down into smaller tasks. A time range is set for each of them.
Interim results are discussed every meeting. On online or offline consultations, you can ask the questions that appear, ask for help in forming tasks. It is important that practical actions be the main topic of discussion.
Here are some tips to make the process even easier and more convenient.
Match expectations with progress
You should not draw conclusions based only on memory. Work with expectations and progress should be on paper or electronically, leaving notes or drawing up a spreadsheet. This will show your progress concretely and accurately.
Learning expectations that were not met by the mentee are a logical cause of discomfort and uncertainty. That is why it is better to stipulate the evaluation criteria and the desired results even before the start of cooperation, without setting unrealizable, fantastic goals.
You can individually choose the form of feedback, but without feedback, the process will be too slow or even ineffective. Let it be in the form of written feedback, communication, or oral dialogue.
A mentor needs feedback. This will save both sides from "thinking out", and the consultations themselves will be carried out as correctly and objectively as possible.
The counseling process itself assumes that the ward solves problems on his own and turns to the mentor only in case of unforeseen situations. Then, when he gets into a dead end and does not see a way out.
Mentors often neglect this rule and try to solve all the problems for their mentee so that the process goes faster and (pseudo) more efficiently. However, they get the opposite effect - the student becomes lazy and disorganized.
How to fight? Always try to achieve the goal on your own to the last. Spend more time on this, use new and old skills. Don't run to your mentor after the first failure - you will never get results.
Build trusting relationships as equals
Without a good relationship between the ward and the mentor, the educational process will not work. Mentee should not devalue his experience and knowledge, and a mentor should not “overestimate” his authority, experience and qualifications.
The desire to develop can easily fight off the dismissive attitude on the part of the mentor. But friendly, warm relations and mutual understanding will definitely speed up the process of achieving the goal.
Seeking the services of mentors or mentoring yourself is purely your personal choice. However, it is the work with a consultant that in most cases helps to overcome the seemingly “ceiling” in professionalism or stagnation in the development of the company.
Feel free to share your experience and receive it from other people - it's always more enjoyable to learn from other people's mistakes.