Mentoring is undeniably valuable, but needs to be carefully approached; too much influence from the mentor inhibits the mentee from developing their own skills, whereas too little contact leaves mentees without the help they need. Whether mentoring informally or through structured programmes, there are some simple methods to make sure you strike the balance perfectly.
A solid first step for any mentor is to look back on the management styles and advice you have benefitted from. I have been fortunate enough in my career to have gained invaluable guidance and advice, which has aided my progression to the position of general manager at The Grand Brighton.
For example, I learned a lot from restaurant manager Bruno Lucchi who had impeccable standards and enduring motivation to get the best out of staff, while the calm authority of front-of-house manager Morag Kilpatrick was a quality I respected and admired. Ian Harkness, managing director at Shire Hotels, was another real influence; he helped to strategically guide my career, which played a genuine part in me achieving a senior general management position within the company aged just 28.
I’m now fortunate to channel this knowledge as part of the Fast Forward 15 programme; an initiative that encourages and inspires women in the events and hospitality sector. Applicants are given the opportunity to be mentored by an industry expert for one year, as well as becoming part of a wider community of like-minded people. Since the programme launched two years ago, mentees have achieved new job positions, promotions and even launched businesses, because of the improved confidence and renewed focus they gained as a direct result of being mentored.
It may sound obvious, but the next vital secret is to listen to your mentee. Knowing what they want to get out of the relationship will allow for a solid structure to move forward, enabling you to set clear goals and track progress easily. The secret is also not to give all the answers but to encourage your mentee to come to their own conclusions through open discussion, which in turn prompts your thought process too.
The best kind of mentoring relationship results in both parties learning from each other. The mentee has the opportunity to learn from an experienced figurehead who has been in their position and beyond. Equally, the mentor has the opportunity to view their practices through fresh eyes as it can be a reflective experience about your own ingrained methods. By mentoring somebody who may come from outside of the industry or from a different generation you have the opportunity to learn new skills, some of which you may be able to apply to your own organisation. For example, the younger generation tend to be instinctively tech-savvy and may be able to suggest methods to streamline processes and bring about positive change.
Once you establish what you can offer and what the mentee is hoping to gain, it’s crucial to schedule regular meetings. Choose set dates to encourage commitment, maintain momentum and set clear goals between each one. Meeting face-to-face is preferable, and choosing a neutral location outside of the workplace can help conversation flow more freely.
Those of us in a management position have a responsibility to engage with our current workforce and provide talented individuals from all levels and sectors with the opportunities to succeed, progress and become the leaders they aspire to be. The value of successful mentoring cannot be underestimated, and as someone who has benefitted from both sides of the process I cannot recommend it enough as part of a wider management strategy.
Andrew Mosley is general manager at The Grand Brighton