enhances your professional life as well as your protege's.
be successful in any field, aspiring leaders require role models and
guidance. This is especially true in healthcare as an increasing number
of its managers opt for work outside of the traditional healthcare setting
or leave to start careers in different fields. At some point during
your career, you may have considered becoming a mentor but dismissed
the idea, thinking it would not be worth the time and energy you put
into it. It is time to rethink your decision. Being a mentor is more
important than ever-and you will get more out of the relationship than
is a mentor?
A mentor affects the professional life of a protege by fostering insight,
identifying needed knowledge, and expanding growth opportunities. This
assistance supplements the coaching an individual already receives from
his or her supervisor. Traditionally, the mentoring relationship consists
of an experienced executive providing guidance and advice to an associate
with less experience. The associate is looking to move up the career
ladder, usually by learning from someone who is successful and well
become a mentor?
Mentoring gives you the extraordinary opportunity to facilitate a protege's
personal and professional growth by sharing knowledge you learned through
years of experience. While the primary intent of your mentoring role
is to challenge the protege to think in new and different ways, the
protege is not the only one who gains from the arrangement. As a mentor,
there are various ways you can benefit as well.
your skills. The experience you gain by mentoring someone can facilitate
your own professional growth, making you more of an asset to your organization.
Mentoring allows you to strengthen your coaching and leadership skills
by working with individuals from different backgrounds and with different
personality types. For example, as a mentor you can help bridge the
gap between generations that have varying workplace values and styles,
such as Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. Your ability to manage people different
from you is a valuable skill, especially as the workplace continues
to grow more diverse. Besides enhancing your skills, mentoring can improve
your performance. One of your roles as a mentor is to set a good example
for your protege. Knowing that you are responsible for providing appropriate
and accurate guidance to him or her motivates you to work harder. Furthermore,
mentoring can give you a fresh perspective on your performance. One
of my healthcare clients discovered that her mentoring experience gave
her new insight into her job. "My protege always asked 'Why?'-why
do we do things a certain way and why do I think and act the way I do,"
she said. "The questions helped me to take a critical look at how
I was leading and what areas I needed to adjust for improvement."
and retain talent in your organization. Your role as a mentor can contribute
to the success of your entire organization. As a healthcare manager,
you know the importance of developing and retaining good employees.
By priming promising employees to become top-performing executives and
by providing them with the challenges, support, and commitment needed
to keep them in your organization, your mentoring efforts effectively
address issues of succession planning and retention. For example, I
worked with an organization that continually hired outside of the organization
whenever management positions were available. The practice was costly
for the organization as well as risky since a cultural fit between the
new employee and the organization was not guaranteed. Establishing a
mentoring program helped them to develop talent within the organization
and gave them the confidence to promote from within. In fact, since
they established the mentoring program, internal hires increased from
11 percent to 50 percent.
a legacy. By becoming a mentor, you create a legacy that has a lasting
impact on your protege and the healthcare field. Not only will you gain
the satisfaction of helping to develop future management talent, the
knowledge you foster in your protege can inspire new ideas for generations
to come. Furthermore, through mentoring, you can help carry on your
organization's legacy by passing on its values and mission to your protege.
As one nurse executive I worked with said, "It's up to us as leaders
to show how our organization's cultural expectations affect our decisions
in budgets, patient care, and leadership. Without mentoring, our mission
could get lost."
mentoring can be a truly rewarding experience, becoming a mentor is
a big decision and one that should not to be taken lightly. The benefits
to you, your organization, and the healthcare field, however, are well
worth your effort.
you are interested in becoming a mentor, ACHE has a number of resources
to help you get started. The Leadership
Mentoring Network can help match you with a protege who has similar
career interests. For more information, call ACHE's Healthcare Executive
Career Resource Center at (312) 424-9446 or complete the online application
at the link above. A mentoring relationship can also serve as your project
for advancement to Fellow status in ACHE. For information on the Fellow
project mentoring option, call the Division of Member Services at (312) 424-9386.
Rose Hollister is a principal at Perrone-Ambrose Associates, Inc., an
organizational development consulting firm that helps organizations create
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Healthcare Executive, March/April 2001