Guest Blog Post by young talent expert Amy Crippen, Agriculture Future of America (AFA), Leader Fellowship
There is an old saying that goes, “It’s not enough to find your purpose. The real achievement is in helping others find theirs.” I never could attribute the wisdom to a single speaker, but the advice remains sage. For those of us in the talent development business, we know helping others find their purpose is the most rewarding.
Think of the moments when you have given someone real time to sort through their thoughts and feelings, and they come away with a nugget. What about identifying someone’s strengths they’ve never noticed in themselves before? How about when you’ve helped someone figure out they are in the wrong role?
These moments all happen within the business of mentoring and coaching. What has always been true is the time requirement to build the relationship, but there are a lot of other factors that play into mentoring and coaching as well. Do you give feedback in a way that builds a person up? Are you strength-based by nature? Do you keep conversations solution-focused? Are you viewing time with them as a gift and opportunity?
Here are a few key elements I have found helpful as I coach and mentor.
Observe Young Talent
If you’re in the business of young talent, look for the obvious places to watch them work. Let them facilitate a team meeting, teach a new colleague, or cold call a new potential customer. These are the moments you can process performance, creativity and business acumen.
Before that, the relationship needs some time and trust.
Ask Them to Reflect
Think of the way you deliver feedback. Does it encourage the person to reflect and think through their actions? Asking, “Tell me about your experience with the cold call?” with applicable follow up questions is a very different kind of conversation than one where you immediately offer performance feedback. By asking questions, you are building patterns in a young mind to reflect on their own performance rather than just relying on the feedback of others.
Be Open and Honest
Another important aspect is transparency. Tell them everything you possibly can about the company. Feed their curiosity. Help them begin to get their questions answered. Send them off to meet colleagues and leaders within the company. Make them just a tad bit uncomfortable. This is what practice looks like.
Set Good Expectations
The hardest part for the mentor is always time. Someone picked you for this role because they knew you would give your best. Scheduling regular time with your mentored is the best you can do for them. Within that space, teach them first to self-evaluate. Teach them to be prepared for coaching time. They want to collect situations and examples of things that have happened in the previous week that need some reflection. You’ll have examples too because you are watching their work closely. You don’t need to be in a supervisory role for this. It’s just good old-fashioned development work.
After you have developed relational short-hand language you can do this by phone. Until that trust is developed, try to meet in person as much as possible.
Finally, believe in them. Young talent brings the gift of changing our organizations, innovating and making us better. They deserve our best, too.
Interested in learning how to mentor interns? Join AgCareers.com for a special two-part webinar “Developing a Successful Internship Program” April 16 and 17.