The third mentorship programme of Perheyritysten liitto (Family Business Union) begun this autumn. The room was full of enthusiastic faces and expectant was floating in the air. People unknown to each other started a common journey by getting to know each other using photo cards: Who are you and from which company you come from? Later, we thought about in groups, what makes a good mentor and mentoree.
In the mentorship programme a more experienced family business owner “spars” the younger offspring for almost a year. It seems that the young are thirsty for sparring from the more experienced and older people more than ever before.
The young have even more alternative career paths and possibilities to fulfil themselves in work life and as owners of a family business. The chief question of the mentorees seemed to be how can I find my role or my path in work life. The ones who have been in work life for a longer period of time are thirsty for advice from the more experienced on how to develop and grow their business and work in board of directors and in management executive group.
Knowing yourself, identifying your own strengths and fears and believing in your own knowledge help to navigate in the world of possibilities. The first step to fulfil your dreams is to say them out loud to somebody. Also, a young person sometimes needs encouragement and a little push before he or she dares to take the second step. The third step requires practical advice and tips.
On this path, the mentor has an important role. In addition to encouragement, mentor also advises, challenges, keeps asking and sharing tacit knowledge and also opens his or her own network to the mentoree. Through mentor’s experience, examples and stories the young person can have new thoughts and point of views. Only understanding listening can be an answer to the question on mentoree’s mind.
In our mentorship programme we emphasise clear, shared rules. These rules are: confidentiality, voluntariness, commitment and objective-orientation. In confidential mentoring relationship, it is possible to share even painful memories. Without voluntariness, the mentor and mentoree are not motivated and committed to the relationship. On the other hand, the objectivity brings vigour to the relationship and frames learning and development.
According to our experience, the dialogical discussion between the mentor and mentoree enhances the success of the mentorship. The basis is not to find only one right solution, but many alternative choices for the solution. The goal is to understand the point of view of the other, not to force own opinions. The process is successful if both the mentor’s and the mentoree’s approach is curious, openminded and inquiring. In this way new visions will arise and new paths will open.
Mentoring is reciprocal, although the objectives of the young person are prime. Both will win. Also the mentor learns a lot when discussing with the younger entrepreneur-owner. He or she gets inside the world of the young and mindset. One of our mentors said: “It is awesome to see that even this old can learn something new.”
In mentorship, as well in all learning, holds true a thought from Platon: “Give, and you will receive!”.
Krista Elo-Pärssinen works as a specialist in Perheyritysten liitto (Family Business Union).
Translation by Marja Rautajoki.