Leadership | 01.14.20
The Importance of Mentorship for Tomorrow’s MSP
NAMSS is developing Tomorrow’s MSP, a major initiative, and one of the main pathways to cultivating the future of our profession is through mentorship. Effective mentorship is an important factor of career success, and I’m very excited to participate in the new NAMSS Mentorship Program! In my 15-year career, I’ve had great mentors and continue to reap the benefits of that guidance. One of the most fulfilling parts of my current role is mentoring new MSPs. Considering the time, money, and effort we’ve invested in our career development, receiving guidance from someone who has already taken a similar journey is a vital step.
Who should mentor you?
Finding and maintaining productive mentoring relationships can be a significant challenge. Choosing a mentor starts with finding someone who has experience, a record of success, is enthusiastic about the profession, and is interested in growth. Find someone you have a natural connection with, and let them know who you are and what you want.
Can you have multiple mentors?
Of course! To become great, we need all the help we can get. Being a mentor doesn’t mean you’ll be provided with on-the-spot coaching or training. Instead, a mentor should challenge and encourage you to think through issues by asking tough questions and being a source of wisdom and support. Although each of us develops at our own pace, this type of influence can have a positive and lasting effect.
Successful mentorship relationships are advantageous for both the mentor and the mentee, but how can you create an outstanding pairing? Every relationship is different, but a few ideas to streamline the process are to set some ground rules, define the goals and objectives, and plan useful activities. Discuss the frequency of meetings, level of confidentiality, and your objective in seeking out a mentor, such as skill development, career growth, or life balance. Then, you can identify a few goals to work as part of the mentorship. Mentees should take ownership when setting these goals, while mentors can work them into manageable steps. The comfort of knowing there is someone to provide advice, be an advocate, and commit themselves to your progress is invaluable and builds confidence. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain. If the relationship is an effective match, it can end up becoming a long-lasting relationship and expand professional networks for both parties.
Don’t be afraid to be a mentor!
Our lives are extremely busy with other responsibilities, but expanding impact and knowledge is a great way to build your legacy. By coaching others and being a valuable resource, I’ve facilitated my own growth and established an important bridge to new workflows and ideas. I’ve even benefited from “reverse mentoring,” where younger colleagues shared their workflow suggestions, use of technology, and ideas for greater efficiency. We typically assign the assumption of age as an initial factor in becoming a mentor, but this does not guarantee they will have something to offer. Experience is a great facet of mentoring, but that can happen anytime during your career. Although a mentor can be anyone, there is one thing they cannot be — selfish! Mentoring isn’t an interaction where people sit next to you and absorb all your experiences. Mentoring is an “us” relationship.
Are you ready to be a mentor?
Introspection is key before taking on the responsibility of mentorship. How do we know when to share our experiences or just listen? How can we nurture this relationship over time and develop trust? For starters, we need to be willing to have more than one definition of what mentorship looks like, both in process and outcome. Some mentees respond well to fluid conversations, while others prefer written correspondence allowing them to think about personal goals or challenges. Some are uber-organized and take notes, preferring to gather information through our monologues. Regardless of mentee preference, mentors must provide a safe space for expression and vulnerability around challenges. We’ll only get to that point with established trust.
Mentors must be “all in,” and like any relationship, there will be give and take. A solid mentor will realize and help the mentee understand that the partnership will ebb and flow over time, and flexibility is healthy. Mentorship is not as effective when the sole focus is on career development. As a mentor to many over the years, and now as a supervisor within my organization, I’ve learned that a more holistic approach is dramatically more effective in helping people reach their true potential. The true beauty of mentorship is making a connection and getting to know someone. This is what differentiates mentorship from career coaching or performance improvement. Mentoring the person, not only their career goals, is time consuming and requires effort, but sharing stories from your life and asking about theirs can transform the trajectory of the relationship. Be truly interested in understanding your mentee and their journey, not just in giving professional advice.
I’ve had the privilege to work with people who not only were extremely talented, but also incredibly generous in helping me grow. They had a huge impact on my life and made a mission for themselves to help me be better. The older I get, the more I see the perspective of all those people who, in big and small ways, taught me, and I’ve tried to do the same for others. Leadership transcends all. If you genuinely can create followership and you’re able to resonate and connect with people, you can accomplish anything!
Mentorship rewards both parties across all career stages/professions. It's a wonderful way to give back, help people grow, learn, and advance, eventually coming to recognize each other as peers and colleagues. Whether a mentor or mentee, be as human, natural, and authentic as possible, keeping in mind a great mentorship relationship helps both parties grow towards wholeness!
Danielle Fulgoni, CPMSM, CPCS, is the supervisor, credentialing, medical staff office, for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. She is a member of the NAMSS Membership Committee.