Happy New Year! I hope 2020 is off to a great start for each of you.
One thing I love about being involved with ASSP is that twice each year — January (calendar year) and July (Society year) — I stop and take time to reflect and consider new goals.
One of my new goals this year is to read more. Reading is a great way to learn and explore new ideas and concepts. Through my messages over the past 6 months, I hope I have sparked some other ideas for new goals related to improving your knowledge, skills and abilities around topics such as risk management, worker well-being and leadership.
I also want to encourage you to consider adding a goal related to mentoring, whether you are thinking about becoming a mentor or asking someone to be your mentor. In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg says that asking a complete stranger to be your mentor will likely not result in success. But within the safety community, and particularly within ASSP, we are not complete strangers. We share a common bond and are collectively dedicated to creating a safer, stronger future.
I have been both a mentor and a mentee. As a mentor, I have found it rewarding to help another person address challenges and grow personally and professionally. While being mentored, I have learned so much about specific areas of expertise and gained new insight on a diverse set of industries. Both kinds of relationships have enabled me to share ideas, gather feedback, consider alternative perspectives and learn new things.
If you are thinking about starting a mentoring relationship this year, here are a few tips that can help you get the most out of the experience:
- Define clear goals. Each of you (mentor and mentee) should determine what you want to achieve through the relationship. It is particularly important for the mentee to identify desired outcomes.
- Reach outside your network. Look beyond your industry or local connections to expand your horizons and explore a wider range of ideas, industries and perspectives. The more each of us does this, the more diverse and inclusive our profession will become.
- Commit to connecting regularly. Having a set schedule to meet, whether in person, by phone or digitally, ensures that you set aside time for a focused conversation.
- Listen actively. For a mentor, it is often easy to simply say, “This is the solution.” For a mentee, it is often easy to expect there to be a simple solution. But each situation is unique and presents many nuances. Taking the time to actively listen, ask questions and confirm understanding fosters a more effective professional exchange.
- Provide continuous feedback. Regularly sharing feedback on how information you have exchanged has been used and to what result will help you continuously adapt as mentoring needs and expectations change.
Dan Hopwood, M.P.H., CSP, SMS, ARM, ASSP Region I Assistant Vice President, recommends that we view mentorship as a cycle. To be most successful, a mentor/mentee must continuously assess where a mentoring relationship is in that cycle and embrace the fact that the relationship will naturally change over time.
Several ASSP member communities have formal mentoring programs. You can learn more about these programs and how you can participate on our member mentoring webpage. The ASSP Community is also a robust source for making connections that can lead to mentoring.
As you look ahead to the coming year, I encourage you to explore all the benefits mentoring can provide. I know I will.