Tuesday, April 16, 2024 | Shawwal 6, 1445 H
overcast clouds
26°C / 26°C

Mentors: Inspiring the new generation

The mentoring concept and practice has been with us for centuries
No Image

I have often felt that, having reached an age of some maturity, one of my life passions is to be able to pass on my professional and life skills to the younger generation. It would be such a waste, if all of my hard word wasn’t passed on. All my hard work, sometimes pain, to stop, and to pass, with me.

I’m certain that I’m not the only one of my ilk who has skills, knowledge and understanding that would make a young adult’s transition from graduate to valued employee a more compassionate and less traumatic experience. In fact Pulitzer Prize winner David Mamet once wrote, “Old age and treachery will always beat youth and enthusiasm,” which is scarily true.

The mentoring concept and practice has been with us for centuries, the ‘passing of the baton,’ in many ancient societies a treasured and celebrated process that has been relegated to the background by the irrevocable passage of time, and no little generational resistance. After all, they do ‘know everything,’ don’t they?

Yet, as Kahlil Gibran, the noted Lebanese poet and author, wrote, “Knowledge of the self is the mother of all knowledge. So it is incumbent upon me to know myself, to know it completely, to know its minutiae, its characteristics, its subtleties...” and in doing so he reflected upon the excoriating need to know oneself, and who better to unveil the real you than a respected senior statesman or woman, in your specialty?

That ‘push back’ against mentorship has been accelerated during the twentieth century, nourished by the frustrating, or celebrated, ability of the new generations to master technology with almost indecent haste. However, it must be noted that technological ascendancy has come at a cost, as while technically, or scientifically adept beyond their predecessors, this generation lacks the integrated soft skills of communication, interaction, and genuine social skills.

Don’t believe me! What is a nerd? And while being a nerd may have its benefits, few individuals can progress without knowing their subtleties, and recognizing those of others.

How one organises oneself, works as part of a team, interacts with work hierarchies and colleagues. How one deals with success, frustration, disappointment, discipline, and failure, are all critical in workplace or sector progression and job security. They are to be disregarded at the utmost peril, because you must implement marketplace and sector processes in the workplace, to be effective in the marketplace.

Corporate practices, and cultures must be learned, as regardless of the value of the individual and their potential, being assured in knowing how you are treated in the workplace contributes mightily to the individual’s progression. Learning these pathways through trial and error can be eroded through mentoring.

Now, human nature being what it is, and knowing that today’s youth know everything, and they are in a hurry, there would be resistance. That’s okay, potential mentors are well-versed at understanding resistance, they know how to massage tender egos, they know how to resolve conflict, they have done all this, many times before. The vulnerability of youth also emerges in the gap between what employees are asked to do, and what they are capable of doing, and again, the mentor is the perfect profile of an advisor and confidant.

To this end, more organisations and institutions, whilst implementing age-based retirement policies, often a waste of intellectual capital, could easily implement mentoring programs for those ‘mothballed’ employees. Such mentors could be offered as benefits for those who demonstrate potential, and either individually, or in groups, be mentored to meet key needs, as retaining that intellectual capital that could prove organisationally invaluable.

This is about keeping quality contributors, contributing: to workplaces and societies; to communities and industries; and growing society through its youth. Mentoring, the sharing of experience and enthusiasm, is surely a concept from the distant ages, yet of today, and priceless to the future.

arrow up
home icon