Why you need to show you care
Have you ever had someone take a real interest in your personal success? How did that feel?
In my workshop on employee engagement, I sometimes lead an exercise where I ask people to share experiences of when they felt a boss, teacher, or coach was truly acting like a mentor and did things that showed how much they cared about their success. In many cases, people end up describing experiences through tears of joy and appreciation, sometimes bringing the whole crowd to tears in the process. Stories come out about mentors who encouraged people to leave their jobs and go back to school; or mentors who lobbied for a promotion for the person; or who lent them their car for an important appointment. Generous acts that show true care for the mentored person are rare in most work cultures, so when they happen they make a big impact. Sometimes the impact lasts forever.
We know from Gallup studies that one of the most important questions to which we want a positive answer is: “Does someone at work seem to care about me?” In fact, when someone answers five out of five to this question, there is only a one percent chance that they will be disengaged at work. These stats are interesting, but for us at Inclusion, there is only one reason to promote this kind of behaviour – it is because it is the right thing to do. It’s a reflection of our core value to “show you care in everything you do.”
Some tips for being an effective mentor:
- Hear and understand the personal goals and ambitions of each of your team members and help them to work towards them when possible. Personal touches like helping arrange a mortgage on a first house or finding a pediatrician for their new child are just as important as providing professional development opportunities.
- Push people to do the new things you see them ready to handle (you will likely see it before they will) and make sure they know it is okay to make a mistake. And make sure they know you will have their back.
- When situations arise when the best things for you or your company are in conflict with what’s best for the person you are mentoring, bite the bullet and do the right thing for the person –always. (At the same time, work with the person to try to make the effect on you and the organization as manageable as possible.)
- Challenge people’s thinking when you think they are heading in the wrong direction. If you think someone is “barking up the wrong tree” with their ambitions and desires, don’t be afraid to have them explain their thinking fully. They might see the light themselves, they might convince you of their course, or it might end with them still on a course you don’t see for them, but the discussion shows you care regardless and it helps you understand them better.
Personally, some of the most rewarding experiences in my work life have come from helping members of my team with their personal ambitions.
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