How to Be A Better Mentor
Like any other industry, the legal industry needs to nurture its top talent to retain it. In such a high-flying world, you don’t want to lose young talent to your competitors or out of the industry altogether. Senior lawyers cannot expect for junior members to emerge from college fully developed and ready to take the reins. In other words, such talent must be nurtured and promoted. No matter how busy your firm, spend time every day being a good mentor to harness the skills of team members.
Identify Relevant Skills
You should make a priority of recognizing and identifying the unique talents of each team member. Who would make a great partner? Who would make a great administrator or practice manager? Who are the best debaters or have the best courtroom performance? As a result, channeling those skills into relevant pathways will help you make the best of those skills. Those employees will also experience greater job satisfaction from skills they are good at and enjoy doing.
Develop Soft Skills First
Soft skills are transferable and include things such as resilience under pressure, communication, and teamwork. None of these are job specific but are relevant to all roles. Without soft skills, you won’t have the framework of the learning process to mentor and coach the employee. Above all, they will not learn from their success or mistakes and apply them to any future role or task without soft skills.
Know the Difference Between Coach and Mentor
To harness employee skills, you need to learn the difference and apply both accordingly.
- Mentoring is long-term, providing regular input across the board. It’s being on hand to address a range of issues. It’s career development.
- Coaching is short-term. It’s used to tackle specific issues that the employee is trying to learn, to overcome a specific difficulty
Coaching can be (and is) used together with mentoring. Different people could also take on these roles. The most experienced person on a task could play coach. The mentor should be the best nurturer in terms of constructive criticism and encouragement.
Discuss Skills and Goals with Employees
When discussing the potential career pathway of an employee, you should acquire their input. They may differ on their opinion of their skills and attributes. What you may identify as useful they may see as a weakness. Some people will leap at the chance to develop their career in a certain direction; others may require a slow and methodical process.
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