Mentoring can mean different things to different people. For some, mentoring happens in an organization when a new employee is mentored by a senior staffer, ensuring the new employee both fits in with the corporate culture and stays on track with their professional development. Mentoring can also happen outside the corporate environment between colleagues on a specific area of expertise.
Many times mentoring is a two-way street, not simply a case of a younger person being mentored by someone older. In fact, most of my social media knowledge and comfort level comes from a young woman who mentored me in the wild new world of social media.
No matter what definition you use, mentoring is definitely about sharing knowledge, opening doors in a specific profession and helping a person to grow professionally. In light of these varied interpretations of what mentoring is all about, I decided to go out to our event planning community and ask them for their definitions and thoughts.
Thanks to the following panellists who have graciously shared their insights in our roundtable discussion below:
- Ellen Boddington, CMP CMM, Stellar Conference & Event Management Inc.
- Sandra Moniz, CMP, Meetings + Conventions Calgary
- Janet Jakobsen, MBA CMP, Professor Hospitality & Tourism, Niagara College
- Nikki Sayers, CMP, Nikki Sayers Events.
How do you define mentoring or mentorship?
Ellen Boddington: Mentoring is a wisdom exchange that extends beyond the factual knowledge. It is also a share of personal experience that best comes from the heart.
Sandra Moniz: Mentoring is an opportunity to honour those that have shared their experience and expertise with you. Mentoring also provides a tremendous opportunity for a two-way learning experience.
Janet Jakobsen: I consider mentorship as a form of philanthropy, and the assets given are time and talent. The greater reward is enjoyed by the giver, not the receiver.
Nikki Sayers: Mentoring is 360-degree feedback. Tell your mentor what your ultimate plans are, and the mentor will help you re-adjust to stay on track. It’s also about giving back to your industry.
How have you benefited from being a mentor and/or mentoring?
Ellen Boddington: From being mentored I have learned that I had nothing to lose if I tried (when I decided to begin my own business). Education is the best gift you can give yourself. I surround myself with mentors who believe in education and who have supported and encouraged me.
Sandra Moniz: Being mentored has allowed me to learn through other people’s experiences. Talking with emerging leaders and showing them the potential within themselves that they may not have yet seen is one of my favourite parts of mentoring. I am happy to offer a realistic perspective on what one might have to do (earn respect, gain experience) prior to landing that “dream job” that they may want now, not later.
Janet Jakobsen: Mentorship is non-directional. I have been a coach and confidant to associates throughout all levels of the hierarchy in the workplace. Additionally, I make it a practice to seek out support and advice from those younger and less experienced than me. This is especially relevant in my current role as I say this is a “learning institution” and we all learn from each other every day.
Nikki Sayers: As a person who thinks in big pictures, my mentor helps me see the small steps to get to the big picture. Everyone should have a mentor. It’s vital to advance your career and business. As a mentor to my students, I can tell them about my mistakes along the way and suggest how to do things differently. And I can help them with the questions that need to be asked.
What are your thoughts on structured versus ad hoc mentoring?
Ellen Boddington: I prefer an ad hoc format. This is where ideas and concerns are expressed with genuine communication that isn’t tied to a structure. Some of the best mentoring comes with sharing a bottle of wine or just picking up the phone and seeing where the conversation leads.
Sandra Moniz: I’m a firm believer of a structured mentoring. In a busy world, it adds accountability. Many of us have the best of intentions, but a formalized mentoring program adds to a deeper commitment for success.
Janet Jakobsen: Time is our most valuable asset and, unlike money, we are all given the same amount. How you invest your time to grow your relationship capital defines the mark you leave. Just like some of the giving guidelines of financial philanthropy suggest a certain percentage of your net worth be given to those in need, so should a percentage of our time be given to help others, regardless of who they are or the role they play in our lives.
Nikki Sayers: Structured mentoring is the way to go. It gives a broader perspective to the bigger picture and allows me to seek advice in new directions. Ad hoc is a one-time thing, and there is no flow to the mentoring. It always depends on the individuals.
Any other thoughts on mentoring you’d like to share?
Ellen Boddington: Mentoring is not tied to career. It may start off that way, but many of my mentors are life coaches whether they realize it or not! I am so very thankful for my mentors.
Sandra Moniz: Mentoring is a great opportunity for us all to learn from one another. I often say that we are lucky to be in the meetings industry because in many cases it is like a family as so many of us have known each other for many years. I honour industry greats that have made such a great impact in our industry by helping to mould and see potential in the emerging leaders that will become industry leaders in the years to come. We all have hidden talents. If I can help them realize their passion and potential through mentorship, I feel that I have given back to the Industry that has already given so much to me.
Janet Jakobsen: I have spent my life both professionally and personally seeking and championing mentorship for very selfish reasons. When I sought out mentors it was to learn and grow from their expertise. When I was in a position to be a mentor I thought I would just give back. What a wonderful joy it was to realize that I actually continued to learn and to grow from those who I sought to “help.”
Nikki Sayers: It’s always give and take. You learn from your mentor and they learn from you. The mentee often sees one direction; a mentor helps you see the other side and more possibilities.
And there you have it — views from four industry professionals. Comment below and let us know: Where do you stand? Do you mentor others? Do you have a mentor? It is a cycle. Get on the wagon — everyone will benefit.