Mentorship in the Workplace as a Catalyst for Development
Personal growth doesn’t just happen in the classroom. Find out from adidas’ Melissa Claassen on why she believes in the importance of mentorship in the workplace.
Career Development at adidas
Having worked at adidas across many of our global locations over the last 20 years, I believe that one of the most rewarding parts of my job has been in mentoring. Mentorship in the workplace gives just as much to the mentor as it does the mentee (I hope!), and it has been so amazing to realise this over the years. For this reason, I’m very happy to see that adidas is creating a more robust internal set-up that will allow its employees to take full advantage of this approach.
I’d like to share just a few of the things I’ve taken from my experiences of mentorship in the workplace.
The power of having a personal board of directors
While I’ve taken on the role of mentoring others, I have also reached out to mentors to help me.
Some have been within the company and some have been from the outside. Over the years, my mentors have taught me the importance of confidence and humility and how to plan the next steps in my career.
The power of mentoring sessions, above all, has shown me the simple importance of carving out time for yourself to reflect on your career, where you have come from, who you are and where you would like to go.
Take time to reflect on what makes you happy and fulfilled, be it in your career, location, whether your current role meets your values, and plan your next steps carefully with all that information. You need to take thoughtful decisions about your career – don’t let someone else plan that for you.
Driving mentorship in the workplace
I always have three mentees that I like to work with at any one time. None of them have come through any formal set-up, they have been natural progressions throughout the years. The most important thing is that all these mentees have come with open mindsets about where they are in their career and what they would like to work on in their personal improvement journey.
We have worked through many challenges together, including focusing on career choices, identifying personal values and – among other things – have looked at how to apply these to find their next role, manage conflicts and boost their networks.
I have seen mentees forge ahead and improve the relationships they have with their colleagues (and supervisors), drive their ideas forward by building support and carve out successful career paths based on some of the topics that we have worked through in our sessions. What a thrill it is to see those mentees career’s take off and hear the (especially unsolicited) fantastic feedback about them!
“I am very excited to see how adidas is working to solidify its approach to mentorship in the workplace.”
I am very excited to see how adidas is working to solidify its approach to mentorship in the workplace, as it will definitely speak to those who might not have enough confidence to reach out to a potential mentor directly.
Learning through experience is something we can all gain from and I look forward to hearing from others on how they’ve developed along their journey.
Thanks for sharing Melissa.
In our fast paced corporate careers, mentors (and being mentored) are much needed guideposts that help us stop and reflect on our journey. And in a way, they hold a safe space for you to see the hope within yourself.
I have been blessed with great mentors throughout my career and I look forward to continuing on that mutual journey at Adidas.
Personally, I am lucky to have mentors who not only prove to be a sounding board when I feel stuck but also help remind me of how far I have come in my journey and of times when I have overcome a similar situation in the past.
As a mentor, what would be your advice to someone who may feel shy or not a 100% ready to reach out to someone they would like to be mentored by?
1. The first thing that everyone needs to know is that, generally, people are REALLY flattered when you ask them for their support. It is a very rare circumstance that someone will say no to helping out another person. Think about when someone has come to you asking for help, you feel pretty great right! Sometimes this knowledge alone is enough to get someone shy to reach out.
2. Secondly, we now have so many types of mediums that we can reach out in. It doesn't have to be a face to face conversation or a "cold call" on the phone. First contact can be through email or a social network message. Think about what medium might not be too daunting.
3. Think of the benefits if they say yes - so many I am sure. What are the downsides if they say no (and by the way they will probably give a very good reason for saying no, perhaps they are too busy right now)? Nothing is lost, another potential mentor can be found. If the person writes down all the benefits that could happen with the mentor they will find that those benefits heavily outweigh any negatives.
4. Lastly, they could ask their supervisor or another colleague if they will introduce them to their prospective mentor. This can be a great way to take some of the pressure off the first meeting.
So, I hope that some of those might help. If anyone else has any other ideas on this one it would be great to hear from you in the comments below.