A Leading Perspective

Pragmatic insights for the leader in you

Come on Baby, Light My Fire

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” 


I have the pleasure of developing and facilitating a mentoring workshop for a client this week.  The fun thing about this particular event is I’m not just telling them about how a mentorship program can work, what the benefits of mentoring are, etc. Instead, I’m going to have the participants do a self-assessment and a peer assessment.  This exercise will be like developing a group competency inventory and wish list.

From there, I’ll have them develop their goals and objectives.  And from there, I’ll have them identify who in their work groups/programs may be able to help them develop those competencies.  Obviously, others outside of the “event” will be identified in this process as well so we’ll make a plan to contact them afterwards.


My main intent for this exercise is to get the participants over the initial hurdle on which many get stuck.

So many of us know we could benefit from a mentor but we don’t know exactly what competencies we need to develop.hurdle

Many of us admire our peers or leaders but we don’t know how to ask them to mentor us.

Further, many of us would make great mentors if we would simply give ourselves credit for what we know.


This isn’t rocket science, folks.  You can do it right now.  All it takes is honesty…


Want to Mentor?


  • Identify what you have to offer others.
  • Identify who may may benefit from what you have.
  • Reach out and ask if they would like to be mentored.


Want to Be Mentored?


  • Identify what you need to learn from others.
  • Identify who may have what you need.
  • Reach out and ask if he/she will mentor you.


Now what?

The objectives have been identified, the requests and agreements have been made.

Next, make a plan.  You asked for the arrangement; what is your objective? Discuss with the other person how best to meet that objective. Perhaps it’s through discussion. Perhaps it’s through some job shadowing. Perhaps you gain it by reading a report or evaluation and asking questions.

Who knows…but trust me, once your objective is identified, you and the other person will figure out who best to “transfer” that knowledge.

Slide1Once your plan is in place, schedule it. Intent is not good enough; you must act. Schedule the meetings and treat them with the same respect you would treat any other development opportunity.

Once the mentoring starts, evaluate and provide feedback. Part of growing as a professional is developing your analytical skills and your ability to provide and receive feedback. Use the mentorship as a medium to hone these skills.

  • What is going well?
  • Have we stagnated and, if so, why?
  • Are we any closer to the objectives and, if not, how can we adapt or correct what we’re doing to get back on track?
  • Have we identified additional competencies and/or opportunities for knowledge sharing and, if so, have we planned to tackle them next?


Folks, I hate to work myself out of a job here but in reality, you don’t need me. Don’t wait for your employer to hire me to help you develop your mentorships. Instead, gather up your colleagues, get some supervisors involved, invite the new people and the well seasoned people and get started on your competency inventory and wish lists.

Trust me, folks, it’s that simple.  





CommunicationsEmployee EngagementEmployee RelationsEncouragementHuman ResourcesLeadershipMentoringPerformance ManagementRetentionRole of HRSatisfactionSHRMSkill DevelopmentValueWorkforce Satisfaction

Heather Kinzie • February 3, 2014

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