Becoming a trusted retail mentor

BY Australian Retailers Association
02 October 2018

How becoming a mentor in the retail industry is a rewarding experience.

Mentorship is an excellent opportunity for anyone who is in a leadership position. By refining your skills as a mentor you can help others achieve and build your own reputation. We all have people we turn to as sounding boards or trusted advisors when faced with challenges. These people are our mentors. Could you be a mentor for someone else? Imagine the positive impact you could have. In the retail landscape, mentors are needed more than ever. As the industry changes and faces new challenges, knowledgeable individuals who are willing to lend a hand are in demand. Examine your own experience and skills and see if mentorship might work for you.

What is a mentor?

Mentoring is a unique relationship, designed to accelerate or unlock a person’s growth. The mentor is someone trusted, who possesses the wisdom and experience needed to enrich another’s life. This could be a more senior member of staff, a business owner in a higher position or just someone who has a greater degree of life experience.

When is a mentor needed?

Generally, mentoring relationships are started when a person approaches you. They know you have a level of knowledge and skill that they don’t yet possess. This person is someone who has taken personal ownership of the challenge that they’re faced with, and are in need of a little guidance to give them the confidence to move forward. This is applicable across a wide range of circumstances. Whether it is someone considering a career move or up against challenges at home, a mentor could be just what they need. In essence, your primary role as a mentor is to guide. This can be completed through providing support and advice to give a mentee greater levels of confidence.

How do I provide what they need?

Initially, the best way to show support is purely by listening and being there for them. Actively listen to learn. Show humility and empathy to create an environment where they feel comfortable opening up to you. Once you have their trust, they will be far more compelled to take on board your advice. When delivering advice, there is a recipe to do so effectively and get the best response from the person you are mentoring. The best way to give advice is by sharing a scenario or an example where a similar situation was faced by yourself, through your own experience, or if you’ve learned it from somebody else and their experience. When opening up about this scenario, be sure to share what worked or didn’t work to give the mentee greater clarity or insight into a possible solution.

To give this advice effectively, there are three golden rules:

Rule 1: In describing the scenario or example, use language that is encouraging and offers a suggestion, but is not directive. Remember, you’re not there to solve the problem for them, but rather to offer direction and guidance on the best means possible to overcome a particular challenge.

Rule 2: When choosing a scenario or example, ensure that it is contextual and something that your mentee will be able to relate to. If you are mentoring someone junior at work who has only been in the workforce for a couple of years, you would be better off sharing a story from when you started working, rather than a story about a challenge a CEO is facing.

Rule 3: Ensure there’s a clear learning from the scenario so there’s an insight for the mentee to draw on. It’s easy to get lost in the story and forget why you started it in the first place. Make sure you bring it back to what they can learn from it, so there is a clear action to take away.

For these three golden rules to be effective, you need to have absolute clarity of your mentees’ goals and the real issue that’s being addressed. Having a clear picture of the support they need from you will ensure that the advice you’re giving, will really hit the mark. Retailers of all shapes and sizes will benefit from mentoring. Being mentored is practical, useful and encouraging.

On the flip side, it is perhaps even more rewarding to be the mentor. It is a chance to teach someone else the lessons you learnt the hard way. Mentoring is a great way to give back to the industry.

John Colbert, Director at Corporate Edge. Learn more at https://www.corporate-edge.com.au

 

 

 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Australian Retailers Association

Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s largest retail association representing Australia’s $310 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. As the retail industry’s peak representative body, the ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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