Did you know that January is #MentoringMonth?
It also happens to be “I’m gonna change my exercise & eating habits forev… at least two weeks” month. But that’s a subject for a different time.
According to Merriam-Webster, mentor is defined as “someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person.” I like the secondary definition even more – “a trusted counselor or guide.” A definition I’ve used at times takes it up a notch – “pay it forward.”
If you’re married or a parent or an elder sibling, you’re a mentor. If you supervise someone at work, you’re a mentor. If you’ve been involved with organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous or Big Brothers Big Sisters, you’re a mentor. If you’ve been a coach on a sports team or a youth coach at church, you’ve been a mentor. If you’ve been a friend, you’ve been a mentor. Mentorship is part of being human.
What people may not understand is that to be an effective mentor, you need to prepare. What is even less understood is to be an effective mentee, you need to prepare. A mentoring relationship between two prepared people is successful because it is mutually beneficial. Mentees certainly learn about themselves and discover ways to improve their professional and personal lives from the mentor. But mentors likewise learn from the mentee, and about themselves, as they provide guidance. Mentorship is not a pairing of unequals but of lifelong learners that help each other. While the mentor should have more experience than the mentee in some area(s), that does not mean the mentee is in a subservient role. Indeed, the pair should be working together to identify and apply lessons learned for a better outcome. They should be rooting for and feeding the other person’s growth. It is that mutuality that makes the human race better.
When it comes to workers’ compensation, the need for mutually beneficial growth relationships is even more pronounced. As I’ve discussed multiple times since the 2020 NWCDC session “Passing The Torch” as one of the founders of The Transitions, our industry is in a battle for resources thanks to the “Silver Tsunami” and 2021’s “Great Resignation.” A co-founder, Barry Bloom, and I co-authored an article entitled “The Existential Threat of Talent Risk in Workers’ Comp and Why It Can’t Be Ignored” to underscore the point.
Most people did not choose work comp. I guess you could say it chose them. They needed a job and “fell” into it. We can no longer count on coincidence as our best recruiter. Instead, we need to be known as an industry that invests in its people, that willingly passes knowledge along, that are active cheerleaders for success.
Bottom line – Mentoring Month 2022 means more.
So instead of limiting it to January, let’s set aside the entire year for mentoring.
The Transitions launched a Mentoring Program last Spring and we have big goals for 2022. We have an excellent Advisory Council who, along with our co-founders, is working hard to define and achieve those goals. We’ve established 27 mentoring relationships to-date between people around the country. We are working on partnerships with charitable organizations, universities, employers with internship programs, and a variety of other creative opportunities to leverage our free, volunteer-run service.
We have several mentors still available for selection. We have mentees that are interviewing potential mentors from that list. We need more of each! We need more mentors that are willing to invest themselves in others. We need more mentees that are willing to invest in themselves (and, along the way, invest in their mentor).
If you want to make a difference – in your life and others – please fill out an application to be a mentor and/or a mentee. But before you do, read our FAQ and PDFs of “Being a Mentor” and “Being a Mentee.” We’ve compiled best practices, tips for success, and resources that can maximize a mentoring relationship whether you choose our Program or not.
If you have an organization that would like to use our Mentoring Program, or want to talk in more detail about our Program, please contact me at [email protected].
Let’s together make 2022 the year of Mentoring!
About Mark Pew
Mark Pew is a passionate educating and agitating thought leader in workers’ compensation and award-winning international speaker, blogger, author and jurisdictional advisor. He has focused on the intersection of chronic pain and appropriate treatment since 2003. He is the driving force and co-founder of The Transitions and just recently launched The RxProfessor consulting practice at https://therxprofessor.com.