Mentoring & Coaching

Across the United States, students are graduating from high schools, community colleges and universities. It is wonderful to see so many people of all ages and walks of life fulfill goals and dreams of getting an education. I actually just attended our nephew’s graduation from John Carroll University. Congratulations to Christopher and all of the 2016 graduates!

The commencement speaker was Beth Mooney, chair and CEO of KeyCorp. Using personal examples she reinforced the schools values of graduating individuals of intellect, character, leadership and service. She encouraged the students to find their passion, be of service to others and live life with gratitude. She also thanked the many mentors who helped her throughout her career and in life.

As those of us who have been in the workforce a while know, graduation is just the beginning of a lifelong process of learning and engaging with others. Like Ms. Mooney, I too, was fortunate to have several talented and generous mentors throughout my career who shared their knowledge, experience and expertise. So as these recent graduates look for opportunities to join the workforce I encourage you to serve as a mentor or to establish mentor programs within your organization.

I have participated as a mentor in several programs, including the Leadership Rice program at Rice University, the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Emerging Leaders Institute and I helped establish a mentoring program for protocol professionals. They all were rewarding experiences, and I found I learned as much from the mentees and participants as they did from the other mentors and me.

If you are interested in learning more about mentoring programs, there are many resources online. Here are a few I’ve used:

Basic Guidelines for a Successful Mentorship Program

1. Set objectives.
Think about the big picture as well as the details–what are the program’s goals? Have an agenda for each session.
2. Establish criteria for mentors and mentees.
Will there be a specific focus for the group–women, minorities, engineers…? How many years experience shodld mentors have?
3. Determine a workable time frame.
How long will the program last, and how often will the mentor and mentee meet? For example, you might plan for a ten month commitment, with biweekly sessions of one hour.
4. Mentoring session platforms:
Will you meet in person, via phone, webinar, video conference, email, or use a combination? What record keeping will be required of participants?
5. Identify subject matter.
Discuss how issues or subjects to be addressed will be chosen.
6. Set other parameters as needed. For example:
  •   Issues discussed during mentoring sessions are strictly confidential.
  •   Mentee will be prepared for each session.
  •   Mentor and mentee will respect each other’s time.
  •   Mentor and mentee will separately and anonymously evaluate the program and their progress every three months.
  •   If a formal mentoring program seems impractical for you at present, I encourage you to nonetheless extend a hand of friendship to someone new in your field on an informal basis. It’s a great way to tap into new ideas, expand your network, and refresh your own thinking, even as you share the lessons you’ve learned.

Protocol Pointer

One of the best ways to build relationships and to contribute to the next generation of leaders is through mentoring and coaching. You can have a lasting impact and promote excellence in your field. So if you aren’t already, become a mentor!

In closing, I would like to thank the many mentors who have helped me throughout my career. I will not list them all, since the list is long. But in the field of protocol, I will always be grateful to Larry Dunham, Ginger Barnard, April Guice, and Leslie Lautenslager. Year after year, I turned to these individuals –and still do– for guidance in all matters of protocol and diplomacy. Thank you.

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