Mentoring the youth

Published On: September 7, 2019 12:00 AM NPT By: Simone Galimberti

Initiating and promoting mentoring and coaching culture can be of great help for youth who are seeking jobs

In the quest of prosperous Nepal where economic opportunities are available to all youth striving for self-improvement and dignity, holding a national conversation on the role of mentorship in the private sector will be a key. We often hear about benefits of having a mentor guiding a new recruit, facilitating her transition to a new working environment and providing her with indispensible suggestions and counsel but there is a massive gap between theory and practice, words and actions. 

A tiny minority of corporations like banks, insurance companies or some big hotels might have some official mentoring program in place but the vast majority of business houses have none. This is something to worry about. 

Mentoring is the game changer element that could radically enhance the human capital and also play an important role in diversifying the national work force by including those young graduates coming from disadvantaged and discriminated groups. 

Yet we need a national conversation that is able to set up parameters and standards on mentoring, which is all about offering counseling, guidance and feedback on constant basis. You often read interviews of highly successful corporate people mentioning the importance of having on their sides, throughout their careers, persons they could refer to whenever they feel the need to, asking for suggestions and feedback. 

Indeed being in a position to ask for support and listening to someone you trust because of her experience and expertise is of unparalleled importance and can greatly benefit your career but at the same time new approaches are emerging that bring traditional mentoring closing to executive coaching: rather than provide ready-made suggestions and advices, a mentor, now turned into a coach, has the tasks of asking probing “tough” questions to the counterpart, helping her discover her own truth. 

Michael Bungay Stanier, one of the coolest coaching gurus and author of The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever proposes that each HR practitioner should strive to become a coach rather than just a mentor. Stanier believes that a person in need of support at work place, for example, a person with a tremendous potential of growth that somehow is stuck and blocked, will be propelled to a journey of personal growth only after hard personal reflecting and thinking, finding, with the right supervision and support, the right answers by herself. Thus coaching can be a powerful tool to harness and enhance the skills and abilities of employees, helping them create their own pathways of self-development.  At this point, the distinction between traditional mentoring and coaching might be not so important.  What is relevant is reaching an understanding among corporate houses about the positive difference that a work culture, promoting supportive or developmental relationships, can make in the lives of new recruits.

The bottom line is that skills must be nourished and supported and this is a long term effort and investment that might pay off but also might have zero result if the existing high turnover among new recruits persists. 

No matter how many internships a young graduate might have undertaken before applying for a position, she won’t be job ready and this is normal because no one can be fully job ready before even starting a career. 

If you are a youth from a disadvantaged group, you certainly have less opportunity. In this situation, initiating and promoting a mentoring and coaching culture can be of great help.  Young graduates have hopes, inspiration and determination. If you are from a minority group, it is even more probable that you push yourself even harder to prove how good you are.  And yet it is not hard to find a vast number of fresh graduates whose enthusiasm is quickly squashed by demanding and unsupportive supervisors. 

Instead of loving their new jobs, they are going to hate it, fostering a culture of low performance due to dissatisfaction and insecurity. Many youth are ready to sacrifice on the salary part as long as they feel they can grow and thrive.  Having a mentor or a coach or just simply a tutor supporting their phases of development is an important investment that can pay off in longer retention. It is imperative to promote supportive work environment for fresh graduates and top management should lead the process. 

Such paradigm shift in the way companies welcome and nourish young graduates can only succeed if the CEOs are fully engaged and enthusiastically champion this change. They are the key people who are in a position to transform the respective industries for better, offering to the youth of the nation the opportunity to build their professional foundations with the right values, attitudes and skills. Thus industry leaders and major business houses should promote a national mentoring and coaching initiative targeting fresh recruits, offering a new pathway for their personal and professional growth and ensuring that large number of youth represent the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups. 

The author is the Co-Founder of ENGAGE, an NGO partnering with youths living with disabilities

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