Mentoring for your Career Development
A couple of years back during the lockdown, I decided to gift my 2-year-old daughter a fish bowl with 2 fish. We together named them Salt and Pepper. My daughter calls both of them happy fishes as they are very active. But suddenly about a month later, we could see Salt not being so active and was looking very weak. We thought she would die soon. But both of us saw something interesting happening between them. We could see Pepper always being around Salt. It looked from the outside that Pepper was giving her some direction to survive. In real life many times, we need a mentor to be around us to help us navigate our career path.
Let’s see the three important roles of a mentor in your career development.
Mentors have in-depth industry know-how
Know-how is the term generally used for practical knowledge or in other words, “street smart”. This is different from the other related terms Know-what (facts), know-why (science), and know-who (communication). Korn Ferry Hay guide charts, the tool that is used to evaluate a job uses three major parameters, they are Know-how, problem-solving, and accountability. The know-how required for the position is the most important component that defines the worth of the position in the industry. In the current scenario being “street smart” is essential to survive in any industry and gives you an edge in competing against yourself in your career development.
The industry know-how does not stop with just the competencies required to perform the roles. It also focuses on the qualifications, certifications, leadership attributes, and managerial dynamics that will help you excel in your role and be a role model. The other critical aspect is understanding the global scenario of your industry. This will help you understand the overall investments and the various mergers and acquisitions happening globally and their impact on the industry
Industry know-how is also getting a perspective on the prevailing culture in your industry. This will be of great knowledge to the new and lateral entrants and help them understand and adapt to the industry faster and better. A mentor with industry know-how will truly be a guide to help you comprehend the existential knowledge required in the industry.
Mentors are excellent forecasters
With the current slump in the global economy, fluctuations in the market are more frequent than ever before. Mentors with vast knowledge will be best at forecasting the trends in the industry. Out of the four main forecasting models, the judgmental forecasting model is one of the most prominent models. This model focuses on using subjective and intuitive information to make predictions. Mentors with vast knowledge will be the best in taking a subjective and opinionated approach to forecasting for the industry and applying the same for an individual too. For the mentee, the mentor will be able to analyze their competency and find the gap against the future competency requirements for the industry, this will eventually help the mentee derive their career path.
Unlike in the past, the skills that we possess have very less shelf life, it eases out too quickly, it now becomes a mandatory requirement for you to be updated, or else you will become like of those costly Apple products that can’t be updated. With AI, RPA, and automation dominating every industry, there is a possibility that certain skills getting outdated and certain positions die a natural death. While mentors will be able to forecast this and help your re-skill to be future-ready, they can also help you adopt the upcoming technology developments in light of your industry
Mentors will help you not commit the deadly sins in your industry
Every industry has its own deadly sins which when committed will be very difficult to come out of. These sins can sometimes be simple and sometimes complex yet they can cause severe damage to our existence in the industry. Mentors with their experience in going through similar paths in the past will be able to point out these sins upfront to us and also will be able to explain with examples the consequence of committing them. Nokia though being the industry leader in the manufacturing of mobile phones for decades couldn’t really find out what sins they committed and what failed them. Stephen Elop the then CEO of Nokia, during the final press conference, with tears rolling down from his eyes said “We didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow we failed”. This scenario can happen to anyone of us, we may not know what is going wrong, but eventually fail every time. Knowing the sins and not committing them, coming out of sins already committed, and sinning no more are the key aspects in progressing in our career
In the present scenario, what was right in the past is not right anymore and what was completely wrong is the new normal. Work ethics are at an all-time low, rather than increasing the standards, the standards are brought down to ensure business continuity. Governments and their leaders across the globe predominantly give tyrannical leadership which means that the leaders of nations are untrustworthy and consistent in their untrustworthiness, this can have a huge impact on the global economy and a greater impact on businesses to function smoothly, this can also cause businesses intentionally choose the wrong path to sustain, but businesses if following this path will tumble down sooner than later. Mentors will be able to point out prevalent governance scenarios in the industry and the effect of national and global policies on it, this will give the right direction to follow in tough times.
Career development when guided by a mentor becomes a journey you will enjoy and cherish.