It can be lonely out there for managers. Your friends and family may not understand what you do and the problems you face and there are many things you can't discuss with your staff or boss. Business mentors and coaches can act as a helpful sounding board.
When are they useful
In Smorgasbord, we interpret mentoring and coaching as being the offer of a service by a person experienced in smaller business life to another who wants to brainstorm about the everyday issues that come up in their business.
You are probably familiar with the matrix
|I know what I know||I know what I don't know|
|I don't know what I know||I don't know what I don't know|
We believe a good mentoring or coaching relationship allows you to ask the mentor/coach questions in the "I know what I don't know" quadrant and get their take on the subject.
A mentor/coach might also make suggestions on areas where you are in the "I don't know what I don't know" quadrant. This has the great advantage of alerting you to things that you probably should be aware of but have no idea that you should be.
What is the difference
Mentoring is different to business coaching.
Business coaching is more often a fee-for-service program and is rather more of a firm program of work to improve the skill set of the person being coached. Think of a sports coach whose job it is to ensure that the athlete is well rounded in the skills and fitness necessary for their sport. It is a more full-on activity on a regular basis and often with specific goals in mind.
Mentoring, on the other hand, is more of a dialogue between the two parties. It is less structured and may not be so focused on specific goals. Meetings might be less common and more at the request of the mentee rather than a regular event. It is also more often a free, or very low fee, service just to cover reasonable expenses.
How to Participate
While we better understand the demand that there will be for mentoring we have set up a "Group" within our networking component of Smorgasbord. You can find this link under the Mentor button in the top menu. Or you can click here.
You are welcome to join the group and to use the discussion board to express interest in offering your services or in taking advantage of the services offered by someone else.
At the present time, it's difficult to think how we can assist in the "match-making" between the two parties given that they could be in very different geographic regions. We think as a dialogue develops in this group, we will be able to improve the way that we "matchmake" interested parties.
While you may not find someone sufficiently close to where you are to permit face to face sessions between the two parties, it might still be practical to engage in Skype or telephone sessions between the two parties and to use other electronic means to share files or other documents.
It’s not possible for Smorgasbord to comment or advise on the skill sets of persons offering themselves as mentors and coaches. We have no way of knowing the quality of advice that they will offer and the individuals themselves.
Therefore, mentees should satisfy themselves that the mentor/coach they have chosen suits their needs professionally and as an adviser. We suggest that it might be wise to have discussions via email or by voice, prior to a face-to-face meeting, so that both parties can get a reasonably good idea of what is on offer from the other side.
Mentors and coaches should also consider having a waiver or similar document that both parties sign at the outset of the relationship. This would cover such things as any costs involved and would have wording to the effect that the advice being offered by the mentor is advice only and that the mentee should obtain professional advice on any matters before they make changes to the way their business operates.
This is entirely up to the two parties. Example forms that could be adapted for this purpose are available on the web.
Youtube - Mentoring the Next Generation: Michael Benko at TEDxOU. Featured on ABC, NBC, and Fox news affiliates Michael Benko is the co-founder of the Amazon Best Selling team the Student Success Academy. Michael's focus is to empower the next generation of students through providing personalized education within a creative framework for students to flourish - link