Published - July 2005

By Dave Jakielo

Who Did You Mentor today?

"Do More with Less." That's the mantra of many businesses today. We have seen leadership philosophy shift over the past few decades from the popular Theory X or Theory Y to Theory BLM, which stands for Bottom-Line Mentality.

Leaders are under constant pressure to maintain or improve profitability. Given that the majority of a company's expenses are usually related to personnel expenditures, it's not surprising that when expenses need to be reduced, heads start to roll.

I'm sure everyone knows someone who has been directly affected by a company downsizing (or the more politically correct term "rightsizing"). And the first to go are usually the employees with the most experience (hence larger salaries). It's easier to cut one person making $75K than to layoff three making $25K each.

The problem with these actions is that they usually leave a company so "lean and mean" that no one has the time or the skill set to mentor the less experienced workers.

This is a sad commentary on the future of business in our country. To develop tomorrow's leaders, we must reverse our direction and get back on track. It's not sufficient to sit back and depend on the largest companies to keep turning out tomorrow's leaders. Everyone, from a multi-national conglomeration all way down to a sole proprietor, has the responsibility to mentor someone.

I have a rule: I never like to go to bed at night unless I helped someone learn something new that day. If I haven't helped someone else, then I make sure that I have learned something new that day. You should spend about 30 to 60 minutes everyday reading or listening to education materials. Experience is a great teacher; however, none of us will live long enough to gain all the experience we need. So it's good to listen to advice from folks whose experiences differ from our own.

Over the years I have heard people offer various excuses for not investing in developing, teaching, or coaching others. Here are a few:

I don't have time to teach this to someone-it's easier to do it myself. Rule #1: Determine how long it takes you to do something. Determine how long it will take for you to teach someone else to do it. Figure out the breakeven point. If it takes you 30 minutes a day to do it yourself, and it will take you two hours to teach someone else. Your payback on the time you invest training someone will be realized on day five when you start saving 30 minutes per day.

The person I teach will take the knowledge elsewhere, possibly to my competitor. Rule #2: It is true that the person you teach may leave with that knowledge. The alternative is that you don't teach someone and the person remains and you're stuck with an untrained, non-productive person for the rest of your life.

They can't do it as well as I can. Rule #3: I hate to burst your bubble, but surprisingly enough, you may realize that not only can the people you teach do it as well as you can, but they can do it better than you.

People have shared with me a plethora of other reasons for not investing in mentoring others. They are equally lame excuses.

I think everyone should adopt the practice of spending time each day coaching others. You may find out that the more you teach someone, the more that person can contribute to helping you reach your goals. Plus, you'll feel good about yourself because you may be helping someone else reach her goal.

Think about it; if the teachers we had during our formal education hadn't been willing to share their knowledge with us, where would we be today?

The learning process needn't stagnate after we graduate from the educational institutions we attended. We need to continue as learners and teachers. Stop learning and you may find yourself in a precarious position: you'll wake up ten years later to discover that your "ten years of experience" is really only one year of experience ten times over and over.

I wish you continued success and HAPPY MENTORING!

Dave Jakielo, Seminars and Consulting, 86 Hall Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15205. Phone and Fax numbers are 412-921-0976. Email Past Articles can be found on my Website - Sign up at for free Success Tips delivered to you via e-mail.

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