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Ask Dan
Q.
I've been asked to mentor a new hire, but I have no idea where to start with her. Do you have any tips?

A.
Mentoring is so critical to companies' development of their personnel that an estimated 70 percent of Fortune 500 firms have instituted programs to foster it among their employees. So your task is an important one.

First, meet with your protégé to assess her knowledge and skills, and chart a general course for her development. Begin by discussing her background and exploring what you both expect to gain out of the relationship. Then, start formulating a guide to the things you feel she should focus on cultivating.

Next, meet weekly or biweekly to assess her performance, but just as importantly, to share your institutional knowledge and professional wisdom that will give her the tools to grow. Keep in mind that because a mentor is commonly described as a "critical friend," you must be sure to accentuate the positive, and to be encouraging when the inevitable frustrations arise. If possible, steer her to solving setbacks herself, rather than simply telling her what to do.

Finally, plan quarterly reviews to gauge her overall progress on the original goals you set. By following these guidelines, you may find that, as the 19th century English prime minister Benjamin Disraeli once put it, "The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own."E



Dan Lumpkin, organizational psychologist, is the president of management-consulting company Lumpkin & Associates in Fairhope, AL. Need answers? Email your career-related questions to askdan@exhibitormagazine.com.
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