Bob and I would sit in his office once a week before anyone else came in. There was no specified time or day or agenda; I would just wander in when it looked like he wasn't too busy or I wouldn't be intruding. I can't tell you how many times we cured the world's woes (at least in our minds!) during these early morning confabs. Most of the time, though, we talked about work-specifically, how I was developing as an editor and manager. Bob taught me how to read financial reports, do business plans, handle problem employees, and most of all, whatever I did, to always make decisions based on what was best for my magazine and its readers. Bob was my first professional mentor.
Bob died when he was 42, but I was thinking of him while listening to a presentation at the AAHSA spring meeting. The speakers, Kevin Svagdis of Morrison Senior Dining and David Stoddard of Leaders Legacy, Inc., described mentoring as “… giving your life away.” I never quite thought of it that way, but that's exactly what it is. You're giving the benefit of your experience, both personal and professional, to another person. You're helping them avoid mistakes, learn about the facility, grow in their position. Do you realize the power of mentoring? You have the power to train the next generation of managers in your facility. You have the power to make an employee feel important and part of the team that is making your facility successful. You have the power to make an employee see that he or she is “worthy” of your time. You have the power to change a life. You can't always give employees monetary recognition, but you certainly can give them your time and interest. And mentoring is a two-way street. You also benefit; you see your facility from a different perspective, you may learn about a different department. You may even end up making a new friend.
Why not start a mentoring program at your facility? Start small. Svagdis says the only “rule” in Morrison's mentoring program is that one's mentor cannot be his or her direct boss. It can be as formal or informal as you and your mentoring partner want. The goal, according to Stoddard, is leadership development. From my own experience, I not only learned leaderships skills, but I learned respect for Bob's willingness to doff his group publisher hat at the door and just talk to me as a fellow colleague. Bob showed me how he became a manager employees wanted to work for.
So how about it? Give a little of your life away. What a lasting legacy you will give your facility and the recipient of your generosity if you start a mentoring program. And Bob? Thanks.
We're debuting our “On the Money” feature in this issue. Learn how to save big money from colleagues all across the country. And don't be bashful. If your facility has come up with ways to save cash, time, or resources, please contact me directly so we can share it with readers.
Maureen Hrehocik Long-Term Living 2009 June;58(6):8