C-Suite Network™

The ONE Program Your Company is Missing

I see young business professionals entering the workforce, and they’ve got all the technical training out the wazoo (now, that’s a technical term for ya!) and often they’ve got degrees to the point that it looks like alphabet soup behind their names, but they are far from having what it takes to be successful in today’s work environment.

They really need a guiding hand, tips, strategies, and techniques for how to APPLY their training and education in the real world of their job. What they need in short, mon ami, is mentoring.

“What exactly is a mentor?”

A mentor is someone who commands a certain degree of respect, either by virtue of holding a higher-level position, or because of experience doing the job. Mentoring is most often defined as a professional relationship in which an experienced person (the mentor) assists another (the mentoree, mentee, or protégé) in developing skills and knowledge that will enhance the less-experienced person’s professional growth. A mentor takes a special interest in a person, and in teaching that person skills and attitudes to help him succeed. Think Mr. Miyagi and Daniel-San from the movie The Kirate Kid

A term that you often hear in Cajun country is comme ca`, which translates literally to “like this/like that”. As a kid when a parent or grandparent was teaching us something, they would say, “Comme ca” as they demonstrated the task. In a similar way, a mentor is someone that a less experienced employee can go to and ask questions, have a task demonstrated, and generally bounce around ideas.

Companies who are on the right track are creating structured mentoring programs to help less experienced team members get acclimated quickly and start progression in their career.

Here is what you are missing out on if you don’t have a mentoring program:

1. Orienting the new employee to the organization’s culture. Knowing the culture is almost as important as doing the job well. Job satisfaction comes not only from good performance evaluations but also from feeling that she fits in, has friends at work and can be herself.

2. Talent Development. A mentor can help the new employee learn the skills particular to this position, apply their education or training on the job, and most importantly, develop the confidence to perform the job well.

3. Knowledge sharingWith baby boomers retiring at record rates today, organizations are suffering major “brain drain” as retirees take all of their knowledge, experience, and wisdom with them as they head for Margaritaville. Mentoring partnerships offer opportunities for knowledge sharing and tapping into knowledge capital within the organization.

When I took one of my first real “big girl” jobs, I was so fortunate to have an executive leader take me under her wing. Her advice and counsel were invaluable to me. Whether or not your organization has a mentoring program, you can become a mentor.

Suggest the creation of a mentoring program within your organization. If that doesn’t fly, there’s nothing to prevent you from taking on a protégé on your own in an informal capacity. Sure, I know you’re busy, but just think how much knowledge you have and how much you could help an uncertain, insecure young team member find his way in the wild world of your organization!

How to be an effective informal mentor:

  • Be the guide on the side, not the sage on the stage. Remain on the sidelines and let her make her own mistakes. Just be there to help her up after she falls. Provide guidance and suggestions when asked, but don’t take it personally if she doesn’t go with your suggestions.


  • Give generously.  Just like Zig Ziglar said, “You can have anything you want if you just help others get what they want.” If you give unselfishly of your time and knowledge, you will get so much back in return! Besides, the lagniappe (added bonus) that you get is that you become known as the trusted go-to guy/gal, which only increases your value within the organization.


  • Been there, done that? Share insider secrets. With your experience, surely you’ve made some mistakes in your day. Share with your mentee any landmines – and shortcuts – that you may have discovered along the way.

Mentors are good for the mentee, good for the mentor, and absolutely good for the organization. If you were fortunate and blessed to have someone who took you under their wing, the best way you can honor that person is by taking a mentee under your wing. Don’t pay them back, but rather, pay it forward.

Comment below:

What great experiences have you had with a mentor?

Who is in your life that could learn from you?

Jennifer Ledet, CSP, is a leadership consultant and professional speaker (with a hint of Cajun flavor) who equips leaders from the boardroom to the mailroom to improve employee engagement, teamwork, and communication.  In her customized programs, leadership retreats, keynote presentations, and breakout sessions, she cuts through the BS and talks through the tough stuff to solve your people problems.

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