“Mentoring is an art only few could claim to have mastered and here, a few practices that can help one gain this mastery.”

for Mentors

34 The Business Enterprise | Apr 2011

Mentoring is not about giving monologues to your captive protégés but getting them into action. weekly or monthly basis and any such regimented exercise would be devoid of the spirit of mentoring. though it may not be spelt out explicitly in your Job Description is ‘mentoring’ of the greenhorns. You can. one vital responsibility that gets added up. demanding customers and tight deadlines. all you need Push for the little extra stretch A maxim we have in our vernacular says. when we faced difficulty. if you persevere to bend of course. It is but natural that a greenhorn would be twice careful about trying out anything new for the fear of making mistakes and would rather avoid the risk. when I recently happened to observe the way yoga masters taught their learners to learn some difficult postures (asanas). However. And help was at hand.o you think we are not mentoring our subordinates? What do you expect us to do differently? as the question that was posed by one of our senior managers at the end of a day-long programme on mentoring. But a mentor can help a great deal in such situations by elevating their feelings and giving constructive feedback while stripping out the awkward feeling associated with the event. The best way to help them is to guide them by sharing from your experience the possible pitfalls they need to be wary of. Support when they tilt Sometimes. It is quite a task to provide structured instructions as to what mentors should do on a daily. The mere feeling that they were around gave us the confidence to try out postures which we would dare not. Yes. Mentors need to give that extra push to stretch them beyond the comfort zone and take them to newer levels consistently. under the guidance of a right trainer. they can’t go wrong and if at all they do. could get into an awkward situation until s/he learns the ropes and becomes adept at it. Bharath Gopalan The writer is a Learning & Development professional and presently steers the L&D practice at Madras Cements. s/he may tend to lose emotional balance and might decide to call it quits. then you don’t probably need to be sitting in a mentoring session. I felt that the efforts of the whole day were watered down by this simple question. He holds Masters Degrees in Psychology and Human Resource Management. Assign them projects and assignments where they can learn from first hand experience. Mentoring is no different. but were not intervening in every step. I felt quite a few things could apply to mentoring practice. After attending the yoga session. when trying to do a new thing. As a mentor. Many a time. All that is needed of mentors is to provide that emotional support to keep their protégés in balance like how our yoga masters did. I don’t subscribe to this view anymore. If it is a crucial skill for success. scaffolding support to prevent us from tilting and falling off while trying some difficult upside-down postures (Sirasasana). you are there to assure them ‘main hoon na’. if you have been doing all these already. when a beginner in an organisation is assigned to a difficult and challenging project that calls for coping with different pushes and pulls. Give it when they need it the most Masters were doing the rounds and giving us instructions. there could be pain in trying to flex what has hardened up for years. You get to listen to instructions as you practice and now your listening is more intense because it matters to what you do. As we grow into senior levels. They were right there and provided a kind of Make them feel good even in awkward positions A beginner. You would agree with me if you could recall the time you made your first presentation to top management. It is the onus of mentors to ensure that their protégés do not settle into a comfort zone that may mar their growth. Mentoring calls for an earnest interest to groom the youngsters and it is more about attitude than about skills. So. But that does not mean that you spoon-feed. ‘what was not bent at five can not be bent at fifty’. But the gentle push the masters gave at the right point made us stretch beyond the normal. Drill the habit of 'learning by do ing' You cannot simply learn the difficult postures of yoga just by listening to your yoga master. awkward situations thwart the youngsters from trying it out again in future and becoming better at it. and the feeling that we were capable of doing it took the pain out of the extrastretch. 35 35 Apr 2011 | The Business Enterprise . D 9 to 6 to do is to give them the confidence that when you are around. left to ourselves. What masters do to teach them is to get you into doing it right away. then it could mar their growth.

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