Shaping a Mentoring Culture – A Comment
I love the way the author here succinctly lays out a path for creating and sustaining an effective mentoring culture . . . and it reminded me of a quote from the change guru and author, John Cotter (Leading Change), “Anchoring Change in the culture comes last, not first.”
Having worked for over two years to create a mentoring culture i na large technically oriented organization, I would offer three concepts to consider when attempting to shape a mentoring culture: Force Field Analysis (Kurt Lewin), the Path of Least Resistance (Robert Fritz) and the Theory of Planned Behavior (Iceck Ajzen).
First you must recognize what forces are driving your organization toward the desired outcome (e.g. mentoring) and what forces are acting to restrain change and maintain the status quo (e.g. no mentoring ). According to this equilibrium . . . We always get more bang for our buck by removing areas within the structure that cause resistance and hold us back.
Second, creating the “path of least resistance” is not simply “taking the easy way”. It is about recognizing and embracing the idea, that like other forms of energy (e.g. water or electricity), human behavior will flow toward the outcome that offers the fewest barriers of gaps. In short, if you want to shape a mentoring culture you must first create an environment where meeting together regularly and sharing information and ideas is considered both an expected and valued behavior.
Finally, think about why people do (or don’t do) something – like mentoring. Sometimes, we simply react to the immediate situation (reaction). However, when we plan to act (pro-action) we tend to (a) see the action/behavior as expected of us by someone of influence (like our boss), (b) look forward to a reward for completion, and (c) anticipate that we will be successful if we try. What is also important in this perspective is that purposeful action requires all three conditions: expectation, reward and competence. In short, a lot of one thing does not make up for little or none of another.
Taken as a whole, these perspectives have helped me to see that even when I create a lot of “how to be a great mentor” competency through mentor workshops and on-job coaching; and lots of “reflection and planning” for mentees through self-assessment and feedback; unless other organizational powers are actively involved in shaping the path of least resistance (by providing expectations and rewards) a truly effective and sustainable mentoring culture will remain elusive.