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How to mentor staff

Lesson #1: Getting the best from your staff comes from teaching them how to swim.

In the first lesson in this series I explore how you can mentor staff to enable them to contribute more to your business.

The day after Lionel had surprised me with his offer, I had my first mentor session with him (I was no less petrified at this stage.)

“Before we begin Eddie,” he said. “I think it would be a good idea if you could get rid of the gold rings, the gold necklace and the gold bracelet.” I thought I looked good, but clearly my attire was not working for me.

Lionel then said he was going to teach me how to swim, which I thought was a most unusual start to our first meeting.

However, I soon learnt with Lionel that he was never just going to tell me anything without a story attached.

“There are three ways I could mentor you,” he said.

“I can take you to the pool, throw you in walk around the other side and wait for you, but you may drown on the way across.

“I can throw you in, jump in with you and hold you up until we reach other side, but that would mean you would never learn to swim alone.

“Or I can throw you in, jump in with you, swim alongside you and when you start to go under, gently lift you up.”

As I had nearly drowned several time in my uninspiring career to date the first option didn’t look too good to me. The second sounded ok, but clearly that was not going to work for Lionel. So we settled on option number three, as of course he’d intended us to.

And that is exactly what he did in those 10 years. He left me alone but never let me drown (though I came close several times). He was always there for me, helping me when he realised that I could not make it alone.

We all make mistakes and as a mentor Lionel knew I would make mistakes – and needed to make mistakes in order to learn – but he was clever enough to minimise those mistakes, ensuring limited harm to the business. He knew I could only learn from my own mistakes. If you cannot accept mistakes will happen with staff then you will have a difficult time developing them.

Just like me, every successful businessperson can name the person/people who helped them achieve their success – who’s yours? If you’d like to talk to me about our mentoring retreat in Tuscany this October contact me for a no-strings chat to see if I’m a good fit to help you and your business.

This is an article series based on lessons learned from my great mentor Lionel Morely Joel. Read the first article to understand the background and then dip in and out of the lessons as you please.

Next: Always treat people the way you want to be treated.