CHECK YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR

ASK­ING FOR HELP CAN BE DIF­FI­CULT. EGOS CAN GET BRUISED IN THE PROCESS. YET THOSE WHO MAN­AGE TO CHECK THEIR EGO AT THE DOOR AND AD­MIT TO NOT KNOW­ING EV­ERY­THING CAN NOT ONLY LEARN A LOT BUT ALSO SAVE TIME AND EN­ERGY AS THEY PROGRESS SWIFTLY IN THEIR CA­REER.

Qatar Today - - BUSINESS > BOTTOMLINE - BY CAROLIN ZEITLER

Cue coach­ing and men­tor­ing – two of the most un­der­used forms of help that are widely avail­able in Doha. Gen­er­ally, both coaches and men­tors are usu­ally called upon in times of tran­si­tion, ful­fill­ing dif­fer­ent roles that ideally com­ple­ment each other. Hav­ing done many years of both and trained a mul­ti­tude of men­tors and coaches over the years, I de­fine the dif­fer­ences as fol­lows:

Men­tors give more tech­ni­cal guid­ance and ad­vice, they help their mentees to get ac­cess to the right re­sources, in­clud­ing in­tro­duc­tions to their net­work, they ad­vise them on pro­cesses and pro­ce­dures they might want to think about or adopt, etc. In other words, men­tor­ing is a busi­ness "how to" – how to start a busi­ness, how to ex­pand it, how to fit in at your new com­pany, how to mas­ter your job and the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties you have, etc. So a men­tor needs to have more ex­pe­ri­ence and knowl­edge on the par­tic­u­lar sub­ject he or she is men­tor­ing on than his or her mentee has. Men­tors are vol­un­teers, will­ing to share what they have learned from their own ex­pe­ri­ence; men­tor­ing is usu­ally of­fered free of charge.

Men­tor­ing can be found in a va­ri­ety of forms: peer men­tor­ing, ca­reer men­tor­ing, busi­ness men­tor­ing, etc. A form of peer men­tor­ing, for ex­am­ple, that has been gain­ing trac­tion in other parts of the world but is still vir­tu­ally unheard of in Qatar is the Mas­ter­mind Group, a group that meets reg­u­larly to ex­change knowl­edge and re­sources.

A coach, on the other hand, has a dif­fer­ent func­tion. It is no co­in­ci­dence that the term "coach" was bor­rowed from the world of

sports. Just like Ser­ena Wil­liams' coach is prob­a­bly not as good a ten­nis player as she is but rather has skills of ob­ser­va­tion and anal­y­sis that en­able him to ef­fec­tively help her im­prove and per­fect her game, a busi­ness or ex­ec­u­tive coach doesn't nec­es­sar­ily know as much about the tech­ni­cal as­pects of run­ning the par­tic­u­lar busi­ness or com­pany their client works at but has the skill to see where the tweak­ing in soft skills is needed. Through work­ing with the coach, the client learns tools and life skills that they can ap­ply in many other sit­u­a­tions too, like man­ag­ing their emo­tions, seeing dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives, fo­cus­ing on the so­lu­tion rather than on the prob­lem. As coaches are skilled pro­fes­sion­als, coach­ing is usu­ally paid.

Giver’s gain

Like so many things that en­sure that em­ploy­ees are en­gaged and feel re­spected, de­vel­op­ing a cul­ture where help­ing each other is the norm rather than the ex­cep­tion is also highly ben­e­fi­cial to the bot­tom line. In his ar­ti­cle “Givers take all: the hid­den dimension of cor­po­rate cul­ture” (McKin­sey Quar­terly, April 2013) Adam Grant re­ports: “Ev­i­dence from stud­ies led by In­di­ana Univer­sity's Philip Pod­sakoff demon­strates that the fre­quency with which em­ploy­ees help one an­other pre­dicts sales rev­enues in pharmaceutical units and retail stores; prof­its, costs, and cus­tomer ser­vice in banks; cre­ativ­ity in con­sult­ing and en­gi­neer­ing firms; pro­duc­tiv­ity in pa­per mills; and rev­enues, op­er­at­ing ef­fi­ciency, cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion, and per­for­mance qual­ity in restau­rants.” Across th­ese di­verse con­texts, or­gan­i­sa­tions ben­e­fit when em­ploy­ees freely con­trib­ute their knowl­edge and skills to oth­ers. Pod­sakoff's re­search sug­gests that this help­ing be­hav­iour fa­cil­i­tates or­gan­i­sa­tional ef­fec­tive­ness by en­abling em­ploy­ees to solve prob­lems and get work done faster en­hanc­ing team co­he­sion and co­or­di­na­tion en­sur­ing that ex­per­tise is trans­ferred from ex­pe­ri­enced to new em­ploy­ees re­duc­ing vari­abil­ity in per­for­mance when some mem­bers are over­loaded or dis­tracted es­tab­lish­ing an en­vi­ron­ment in which cus­tomers and sup­pli­ers feel that their needs are the or­gan­i­sa­tion's top pri­or­ity Yet far too few com­pa­nies en­joy th­ese ben­e­fits. One ma­jor bar­rier is com­pany cul­ture – the norms and val­ues in or­gan­i­sa­tions often don't sup­port help­ing. After a decade of study­ing work per­for­mance, Pod­sakoff iden­ti­fied dif­fer­ent types of rec­i­proc­ity norms that char­ac­terise the in­ter­ac­tions be­tween peo­ple in or­gan­i­sa­tions. At the ex­tremes, he calls them “giver cul­tures” and “taker cul­tures.” He then goes on to ex­plain that most com­pa­nies don't fall into ei­ther of the ex­tremes but are some­where in the mid­dle, which he calls “matcher cul­tures”, as where peo­ple help those who help them.

“Although matcher cul­tures ben­e­fit from col­lab­o­ra­tion more than taker cul­tures do, they are in­ef­fi­cient ve­hi­cles for ex­change, as em­ploy­ees trade favours in closed loops. Should you need ideas or in­for­ma­tion from some­one in a dif­fer­ent di­vi­sion or re­gion, you could be out of luck un­less you have an ex­ist­ing re­la­tion­ship. In­stead, you would prob­a­bly seek out peo­ple you trust, re­gard­less of their ex­per­tise. By con­trast, in giver cul­tures, where col­leagues aim ad­ding value with­out keeping score, you would prob­a­bly reach out more broadly and count on help from the most qual­i­fied per­son.”

The mas­ter­mind groups that I spoke about ear­lier rely on a sim­i­lar cul­ture of help­ful­ness. One el­e­ment of many mas­ter­mind groups is the “hot chair”, in which each per­son gets a turn to talk about a chal­lenge they are try­ing to over­come and then the rest of the group pro­vides all the help they can to re­solve the is­sue. Each per­son re­ceives valu­able con­tacts, re­sources, best prac­tices and ad­vice – and then they give what they can to the other group mem­bers.

As the rise of Wikipedia, crowd­fund­ing, share­ware, Cre­ative Com­mons and so many other in­ter­ac­tive plat­forms shows, many peo­ple are nat­u­rally in­clined to give and share knowl­edge and re­sources for the ben­e­fit of oth­ers. Even younger em­ploy­ees can par­tic­i­pate as givers, as a cur­rent trend demon­strates. It is dubbed “re­verse men­tor­ing” and de­scribes a prac­tice where younger em­ploy­ees help older em­ploy­ees un­der­stand new trends in tech­nol­ogy and work­place prac­tices.

Grant does warn us though that tak­ers often do more harm than givers do good, so it is im­por­tant to min­imise the num­ber of tak­ers in the or­gan­i­sa­tion, to make sure that match­ers and givers pre­vail.

It might seem like a leap out­side the com­fort zone to seek out a coach or a men­tor – but then we all know that out­side the com­fort zone is where growth hap­pens!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Qatar

© PressReader. All rights reserved.