In today’s world newer players armed with technology and smaller overheads are toppling the giants. Any employee who does not have a keen appreciation of business and how cash registers ring, may find it challenging to grow in future.
The understanding of business has, traditionally, been limited to customer or revenue-focused functions. Others in the support or auxiliary roles never felt the need to learn the art of business. Times, however, are changing. As now, irrespective of your function, you need to understand the mechanics of business. The ability to impact the bottom line and to get cash registers ringing is a sure pathway to the corporate boardroom, having an active business mentor is as essential as having a career mentor.
At Stanford University, Prof. Albert Bandura has researched for decades on this impact. Three findings are especially important:
1. We do most of our learning from observing successful and unsuccessful models. In other words, we watch people’s actions, see what happens to them, and then emulate (or avoid) similar actions ourselves.
2. We respond well to positive reinforcement from certain people. That is, we learn faster and more effectively when we receive positive feedback from someone we respect.
3. We learn best not only from positive reinforcement but also from having "mastery experiences." That means we leap ahead in our learning if we master something difficult.
A business mentor would ideally be someone, who has experience in scaling up a business, this is a bit different from the career mentors, who focus more on softer skills. You need to find a business mentor from your network, go and attend a few start-up pitches, and try to get one of the judges to be your mentor.
Business mentoring can fast track your business acumen and corporate growth as
- It will give you time to reflect, because of your position, you may not find the time to learn from your colleagues. Thus you need a mechanism that allows you to step back and reflect on the business side of things, to ‘see the wood for the trees’.
- It allows you to learn from other business owner’s mistakes and ‘critical incidents’, learning from others error is the most cost-effective way to build your own game. Why do you need to make the same mistakes as others and pay the price?
- Business mentoring is a combination of experience and self-learning. This will enable you to get more personalised support, rather than generalised training that you may be already using.
- Fits with the new-age entrepreneurs’ learning styles: The world is transitioning to a new agile way of working, by learning from real business owners, you will be able to infuse new energy in your career.
Your formal mentoring relationships will go more smoothly and impact you more when your partnership contains a certain amount of structure, a process to follow during the beginning, middle, and end of your formal time together. You and your business mentor should do “process checks” from time to time to be sure your relationship is moving along satisfactorily.
Here are a few derailers that you need to be wary of:
Mentees often go to their mentors with only a general idea about how they want to improve, while the business mentors prefer that you get more specific about what you want to learn.
Many development goals are too large or too small, Some are the right size but aren’t particularly essential or motivating. So take a hard look at your goals. Make sure you take these pitfalls into account when you work with your business mentor.
— The writer is an HR & Strategy consultant www.humanresourcesblog.in