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Learning Center Experience
By Andryce M. Zurick, PhD, EBCApril 2015
As little girls, our mentors consisted of parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles, babysitters, and grade school teachers. They taught us how to exist in the contemporary world through the use of tactical processes. Indeed, these are life-learning experiences.
Last year in the School of Business and Information Technology, the academic management team pulled together to create a new behavioral approach for professors and instructors. The approach framed faculty as guides looking to open, rather than limit, opportunity. This prompted the author to create a model where born from the "faculty as guide" are two sides of a triangle: one that is the strategic guide (coach) and the other to act as a tactical guide (mentor). Ultimately, the model suggests that when utilized in conjunction as a complete guide, learner development will yield learner enrichment and success (see the graph below).
This article focuses on the right-hand side of the Model, mentoring as the tactical guide. Many have embarked upon higher education in order to pursue their dream career and/or life goals. At this point in your path, have you thought about engaging a mentor to help you sharpen your business tools? Mentoring is an "[ongoing] relationship that can last for a long period of time" (Hawkins & Smith, 2006, p. 39). The tactical guide or mentor is generally more experienced and qualified than the mentee and has "been there, done that" many times over.
The mentor might be a very senior person within your organization who has the knowledge, experience, and can open doors to opportunities that you might not have thought of (p. 39). The senior person can be either your superior or peer depending upon what business tool you need sharpened. Both mentor and mentee must have the ability and time to focus upon career and personal development; it's all about professional development to move forward in realizing the ultimate dreams.
How does one find a mentor? The best way is through networking inside and even outside of your organization. Take some time to reflect what you want in a mentor and prepare questions to ask of your potential mentor; for instance, find out what type of experience in your particular niche area s(he) possesses (Zeus & Skiffington, 2008, p. 90). Up to what level has the mentor had experience at your current level (position) or beyond? When the author held a position with a start-up technology company as the Director of International Sales, she found an executive sponsor to meet with monthly to bound ideas around with him and to acquire tactical information from him in order to build, maintain, and support an international sales team. Oh yes, don't forget to ensure the right mix of personalities make this a fruitful mentoring experience for both.
When the mentor and mentee meet, some preparation is required as for any meeting. The agenda will be set by the mentee and sent well ahead of the meeting time to the mentor so that s(he) can best support and guide you for future roles and responsibilities. Remember, finding and working with a mentor is like making a gold strike; it is invaluable. Allow the mentor to "freely give advice and opinions regarding strategies and policies" (Zeus & Skiffington, 2008, p. 18). Of course, this must be in keeping with the company and or organization standards, norms, and values.
Dr. Andryce M. Zurick is a faculty member at Kaplan University. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author(s) and are not attributable to Kaplan University.
Hawkins, P., & Smith, N. (2006). Coaching, mentoring and organizational consultancy: Supervision and development. New York, NY: Open University Press, McGraw-Hill.
Zeus, P., & Skiffington, S. (2008). The complete guide to coaching at work. North Ryde NSW, Australia: McGraw-Hill Book Company Australia Pty Limited.
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