Building Batman & Robin Relationships At Work
Recently the concept of “building bench strength” on a team/for an organization has crept into several conversations. Thus, it provided me with an opportunity to ask questions AND ultimately share back with all of us what are some useful thoughts on building bench strength.
One of the core concepts showing up in all the conversations I had was mentorship - not a new idea by any means, but rather a reminder to be intentional in this process. And because I have been flying to work with teams recently and taking in some extra movies, I was reminded even superheroes (like all of you) know this is true—just take a look at Batman and Robin. In some versions, Robin turns into a bonafide superhero himself. After all, when Batman wants to retire, he’ll rest easier knowing there are capable heroes to save the world.
So, how can you develop a mentor/mentee relationship that ends in your mentee being ready to tackle the big stuff and set out on their own? Here are a few themes that emerged during some conversations with the Batman’s of this group that will assist you in success (and have the Penguin quaking in his pointy boots.)
If your organization doesn’t have a formal mentor/mentee program (which many do not), find out how YOU can set one up. If you don’t have time or resources for an entire program, take it upon yourself to start informally with one mentee.
Who do you see that could use some direction to realize their full potential? Go out of your way to set up meetings, lunches, and check-ins with this person. Ask them how things are going. Identify areas of strengths and weaknesses. Offer ideas to help them make greater gains in the areas in which they excel, and discuss solutions for the areas in which they struggle.
Take the initiative to step in as a helpful friend, and you’ll be well on the path to building a solid mentor/mentee relationship.
Help your mentee identify at least two goals. Remember to focus on one area in which this person excels. Use positive language and encouragement. This shouldn’t be an intimidating process steeped in harsh evaluations. The purpose is to help them grow in the company under your guidance and assistance.
Guide the mentee to choose a goal in an area of struggle. By allowing the mentee to choose the goal, you give them power and ensure it is something they feel up to tackling. Your main job is to listen while they create the goals. Once they’ve established their two goals, it’s time to create a schedule and a plan.
Check In and Evaluate
You’ll want to be available during scheduled times to see how your mentee is doing. Remember, you’re trying to develop a relationship of trust, and in order to do this, you’ll need to be ready with open communication and ready to adhere to your agreed-upon check ins. Let the mentee know how they can reach you, and set up times to discuss their progress and setbacks.
As the timeframe you’ve established comes to an end, talk to your mentee about the process and how they did on their goals.
But for the greatest relationships, feedback must go both ways. Ask the mentee what you could have done better to help them along the way. Allow them to evaluate themselves as you take their feedback and reflect on your role. Work together to find ways to improve upon this process next time. By letting your guard down and embracing vulnerability, you’ll develop new strategies for the next round of mentors and mentees.
Repeat (And Let Your Robin Fly)
Depending on how you and your mentee feel after one round of goal setting, you may wish to continue this process. Start at the beginning, and improve upon the last time based on suggestions and feedback from both yourself and your mentee.
If your mentee reached their goals and developed new leadership skills of their own, consider asking them to become a mentor to a newer employee. Discuss what worked and brainstorm ideas to improve the process. After all, the ultimate goal is to grow a happy, confident, and incredible team.
Try out these steps to build trust, give your team new opportunities for growth, build your bench strength, and turn your mentees into superhero’s. Because even Batman shouldn’t have to do it all alone.