Some years ago, the company I was working by that time establish a mentoring program. They realize that their staff was getting older, most of them very close to retirement age and they did not have trained people ready to replace them.
The plant implemented the program and the operations manager adopted me. Back in those days I was an industrial engineer full of theoretical information but very little experience. It helped me a lot to have a successful manager with years of experience couching, counseling and sharing her perspective and very good information about best practices and the why’s of them. At the time, she was not my supervisor which maybe helped to open even more the communication to discuss items like how to meet the challenges of being a young woman in charge of people with more years of experience than my years of live and some men that did not appreciate the idea of taking orders from a woman. I became a successful supervisor and grew up relatively fast in the company in part for this
I once inherited this department with no supervisor. The previous manager had this talented guy with no previous supervisory experience lined up for the position. I was struggling between hiring an outsider or giving the chance to this person. I chose the latter, knowing that he was not prepared for the position.
Without training or a role model to follow, soon he was having problems to delegate, distribute the work within the team, discipline people or even to understand what he can decide by himself and what consulted with his supervisor. I remember my experience as a mentee and decided to mentor him.
Our journey together deserves a post by itself but for now I will say that has been very rewarding for both of us. Now he surprises me all the time with his ideas, leadership and committment with lean manufacturing. He surprises himself and use his experience to motivate and convince his own team.
I did not know how to mentor, I was just following the steps that my mentor walked with me, the following quote from Simon Sinek summarize that relationship: “A mentor is not someone who walks ahead of us to show us how they did it. A mentor walks alongside us to show us what we can do”.