The Power of Connection at Work – Mentoring
Living in Anxious Times
We are currently being inundated with worries of all kinds. We wonder about social media and its impact on our lives from the moral fiber of our society to its effect on the workings in our brains. As more people settle in big cities, loneliness is on the rise. At work, people are seeking a balance of empowerment and direction/structure. And finally, people seek others for affirmation, love, and witness, and without them humanity is more anxious, less happy.
So, how does mentoring help solve these worries?
Note that I am using mentoring here as an overarching concept of supportive, positive connections. Positive relationships are authentic, honest, and focus on the strengths of the other; they advocate for the other’s best interest; they celebrate each other’s successes. The fundamental requirement of a positive relationship and a mentoring culture is trust. It is the ability to be vulnerable with a colleague or manager and still feel safe. Brené Brown says that putting ourselves out there, allowing vulnerability, is necessary to courageously grow to our potential. No risk . . . no courage . . . no way you’re meeting your potential . . . end of story. And yet, one in five American adults say they have no one to rely on for emotional support.
The Power of Mentoring
This is incredibly powerful information for organizations – without emotional support and safety, we lose our ability to generate new ideas, to be creative and innovative. We second guess ourselves and leave our potential on the table. The 1970’s psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut proposed that belongingness was necessary for humanity; he defined belongingness as the feeling of being “human among humans,” of being connected to other people. Organizations have a great opportunity to provide a mentoring culture that encourages healthy risk-taking while learning with the encouragement of trusted advisors; to generate feelings that they are valued and belong.
Prioritizing positive relationships in the workplace also plays an important role in curbing loneliness. A 2018 Cigna study on loneliness indicates that nearly half of Americans sometimes or always feel alone. Douglas Nemecek, M.D., chief medical officer for Behavioral Health at Cigna indicates, “There is an inherent link between loneliness and the workplace, with employers in a unique position to be a critical part of the solution.” One such solution is prioritizing High Quality Connections (HQCs), a term used by Jane Dutton at the University of Michigan’s Center for Positive Organizations. According to Dutton, building HQCs is a 4-step process: 1) respectfully engaging others, 2) task-enabling others, 3) trusting others, and 4) having fun together.
Achieving these relationship goals may be accomplished informally through a wellbeing culture across the board and may be implemented with formal coaching and mentoring opportunities. A formal coaching or mentoring program can be designed in a number of ways and may be top-down, may use an internal or external coach, or may be structured peer-to-peer. Each adds a customized approach to leadership development, resulting in team members that feel invested in, listened to, and cared about. All this while also growing the overall competency and confidence of the organization, potentially expanding the entity’s base of possible candidates for succession planning.
Mentoring is a key component of a workplace of wellbeing which enables people to connect, thrive, and grow. It reduces loneliness and fosters innovation and creativity – it creates a culture where people want to be and stay, and it initiates new ideas and better decisions. All good for our emotional and physical wellbeing . . . and not to mention, the bottom line.
For more on the M6 Model and my approach to coaching, take a look at my website and other blog posts about Life Coaching and Organization Development.
I would love to hear your thoughts, so feel free to contact me about coaching, and we can talk more about positive relationships and a culture of thriving! Share this post with friends you think my find this of interest!