DeeJay R. Garringo, CAE
DeeJay R. Garringo, CAE, is associate at STAT Association Management, Inc., in Fairfax, Virginia.
Serving as a mentor or being a mentee is something young professionals may want to think about. As generations shift, a dynamic mentoring program will empower staff and their industries into a better future.
Investing the last four years of my association career as a mentor and coach has significantly affected me professionally, my peers, and my organizations. On top of that, the experience has been enlightening, rewarding, and fun.
What inspired me to do it? It was simple. I passed the CAE in 2015, and from there I volunteered in the community as a CAE mentor and helped others make it through.
Being a young professional, that didn’t stop me. In fact, it gave me more reason to do so. After all, we are the future of our profession.
It was not easy at first, but once I poured time and passion onto it, it worked quite swiftly. But fair warning: it’s easy to become a mentor and make it about you. Don’t make that mistake.
Focus on the experience—what you both want to accomplish and where you both want to be. The metaphor of the mentee as the driver and the mentor as the passenger worked for me. But what’s most important is that the relationship is dynamic, flexible, and yet focused.
If you’re considering having a mentoring relationship with a colleague or a peer, here are some things to think about that prove mentoring brings more value than one might think:
Capitalize on what you’re good at and allow others to learn from you.
Mentoring creates leaders. It’s a great relationship-building strategy. Applying the driver/passenger metaphor, it allows the mentee to get to the destination, with you there to help navigate. Mistakes will happen—that’s OK. Improve upon it and move on. Practice makes perfect, right?
Mentoring allows learning. Storytelling is quite an effective tool. Mentor and mentee may not always think alike. So it is insightful if you take the time to listen. There may be no “right or wrong,” but what’s valuable is yielding new perspectives.
Mentoring moves organizations. Serving an advisory role to your organization’s volunteers helps create a healthy volunteer-staff relationship. It empowers your volunteers and, more importantly, your volunteers wouldn’t feel alone. Of course, factoring in an organization’s culture, establish a fashion where you and your volunteers can partner up and generate ideas together, troubleshoot issues, and so forth.
Mentoring expands skill sets. Learning through mentoring focused on a specific area is also a good strategy. Capitalize on what you’re good at and allow others to learn from you. For example, you can be a mentor on executive leadership, public speaking, or earning the CAE.
Mentoring builds network. It takes one, well-designed mentoring relationship for other opportunities to open up. When your mentee can confide with you and feels guided by you, they will more likely talk about you. The power of “word of mouth” may lean toward you, if you design your mentoring relationship to be less about you and more about your mentee.
Whether you are a young professional or not, I encourage you to embark on becoming a mentor or a mentee. It is something that we need more of, and it doesn’t need to be complex. Build it in such a way that it is insightful and motivating. Investing in this journey shows that you champion learning and helping others.