Mentoring has been around forever. Before it was called mentoring, it was known as apprenticeship — the training novices went through before they could become journeymen.
Apprenticeship pairs a master craftsman with a novice and, over a period of years, the master imparts his (or her) techniques, tricks, and shortcuts – together with some of his wisdom - to the apprentice.
The industrial revolution largely put an end to the apprenticeship tradition, which today is practiced only in highly skilled trades, often within a unionized regimen.
Happily, for us, mentoring is alive and well in the manufacturing world. A good thing, too, because we believe having a good mentor is invaluable to your growth. Both Bryan and I have been fortunate enough to have been mentored, and each of us has had the honor of mentoring others.
However, unless you work for a company with a structured mentoring program – sadly rather unlikely in a manufacturing environment - you are faced with two main challenges: (a) actually realizing you need a mentor and, (b) finding one.
Hopefully, you already appreciate the benefits of having a mentor. If so, finding one can be relatively easy. You potentially already work with him (or her). They might be sitting at the desk to your right or you might find them in your supervisor’s office — that’s right, your boss!
A suitable mentor should possess the temperament to help people and a willingness to do so. Many people have one or the other, but few have both.
Your mentor will probably be one of the calmer personalities in your work world. It will be the person who listens to others’ opinions until it is time to decide, then makes decisions with little hesitation or self-doubt.
Look for someone who is rarely impulsive or rash. More importantly, it might be one of the people who spend significant time On the Plant Floor. Or, if promotions have removed them from the plant floor, they spend time missing that aspect of their work life and griping about it.
Find such a person and tell them you need their advice on how to lead people and improve production performance because you want to do a good job. If you believe your words, they will too. And they will know better than you that asking for help is not a show of weakness but a signal that you understand there is no substitute for experience.
Read more on manufacturing leadership.
Photo by Rob Lambert on unsplash.com