MENTOR MANAGEMENT - CRITICAL GAPS TO SUCCESS

A. THE FRAME OF REFERENCE

At the core of the issue is many managers’ lack of a frame of reference.

Many businesses are founded, and developed, by people with no prior experience who ‘learn on the job’ – which is an excellent way to proceed. Even those who ‘inherit’ businesses from parents or family members, while they may have been bought up in the business, have limited external reference points to work with.

The natural inclination of business managers is, perfectly correctly, to promote their successful staff from within, but all too frequently this promotion comes without the necessary skill set for the next job. Great salesmen don’t always make great sales managers and promotion of the country manager to regional manager can frequently fail.

Business education is of great value, at any point in the cycle of personal or business growth, but reliance on the ‘academic’ and the ‘theoretical’ is no guarantee of its applicability in today’s marketplace

The core problem is ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ – and therefore you don’t know what questions to ask or what the future implications might be of a decision taken today (or at least what you should consider in taking that decision).

A frame of reference comes directly from experience – the same way a parent is able to help a child develop because they have ‘been there’ and ‘done that’. You cannot develop a frame of reference except through experience, and through time – but this is what needs to be brought to bear immediately on new businesses and growth areas of developing ones, to equip them for the future.

B. THE OPEN QUESTION

Equipped with a Frame of Reference, the best way to apply the knowledge gained is to reverse the parent-child analogy….and be the one who asks the questions. Without knowing it, the constant ‘why’ from a child is the most powerful way to maximise the immediate application of the experience.

Too few people understand, and employ, the strength of the open question – often because they don’t know what question to ask or how to phrase it, but more importantly they don’t know how to process the answer, or what that answer may mean.

With a business frame of reference the objective is to ask as many questions, down as many tracks, as possible, to ensure that the manager really has checked all the possible angles…to open up areas that have not been thought of yet but will be relevant for the future….to develop areas that have been touched on but not thought through….

This is not a question of offering solutions or solving problems but helping the individuals work through and come to their own decisions – or at least help them come to a decision they buy into and understand rather than one imposed on them. Equally, the position can be that there are a series of questions / areas that need to be explored for the future which can be ‘parked’. But, crucially, they have already been raised, been thought about if not resolved, been identified as relevant for the future….none of which would have happened without that conversation and that frame of reference.

C. THE RESULT

Mentor Management is the application of accumulated business knowledge through a clear frame of reference to allow a transfer of experience, or immediate access to such a source of experience.

  • Mentor Management is a simple, but highly effective, training and development tool – not one sourced and delivered by academics but passed, on a one-to-one basis, directly from experienced managers to those at earlier stages of their business or careers.
  • Mentor Management allows unrivalled personal access and focus – an exclusively one-on-one relationship
  • Mentor Management is a ‘no fault’ method – it is designed for the mentor to question and push but ultimately not make the decisions. “It’s your fault” does not apply
  • Mentor Management is not “consultancy” – it is involved, implicated and implicit in those decisions taken, not an external “expert” who will provide reports and “consult”.
  • Mentor Management is applicable in all areas of the business (due to the rounded nature of the individuals and the frame of reference and experience they bring) and across all business lines, and is not limited by ‘specialisations’.
  • Mentor Management compliments the experts who start businesses – by offering immediate breadth and depth of experience.
  • Mentor Management supports those recently promoted – or on the verge of being promoted – by offering this same breadth and depth of experience.

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