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All About Mentoring – New Audiobook from IEEE-USA

By Paul Lief Rosengren

In her IEEE-USA audiobook, The In’s & Out’s of Mentoring, Dr. Peggy Hutcheson traces the origins of the word “mentor” to Greek mythology, when Odysseus went off to fight in the Trojan War and entrusts his son to Mentor. Hutcheson defines the modern-day mentor as “anyone who is willing to use his or her wisdom, experience, or expertise to help someone else develop.” In this audiobook she gives examples of successful mentors, discusses the ways to find a mentor, and presents what a strong mentorship looks like. The audiobook is also a good listen for those starting out as a mentor.

Hutcheson suggests that everyone, at some point in their careers, can use a more experienced mentor for “guidance, advice, new skills, or redirecting.”  She stresses that mentorships come in very different packages; some are short, maybe lasting just the length of a project, while others last decades. Sometimes mentoring is deliberate, such as part of a corporate-sponsored program; other times, a relationship develops naturally, without participants even using the word mentor. In our fast-changing, complex work world, Hutcheson suggests it is desirable to have multiple mentors, helping you tackle various skills and challenges through leadership, communications, or other skills development.

When seeking a mentor, Hutcheson suggests reaching out to HR to discover what existing programs are available. Not every company has them. In searching for one on your own, you should cast a wide net to people outside of your department. The key is looking for someone known as a leader; one willing to help you develop your skills.

Hutcheson advises looking beyond your current business, including leveraging your college or university, to see if they have programs linking graduates with more experienced alumni. In addition, she recommends looking at people already in your life who might be good mentors: former professors, team coaches — even family members.

For more mature employees, Hutcheson suggests considering “reverse mentors”; matching with a younger employee who might help you master an aspect of social media, or other emerging technologies.

To get the most out of a mentorship, Hutcheson stresses it is critical you find a mentor who is honest, one willing to tell it like it is. Of course, she warns, it is also critical that you be open to feedback. “Hearing candid information about your skills, actions, or goals may not be easy. Be ready to step out of your comfort zone to try new behaviors.” She concludes that the foundation for a strong mentor/mentee relationship must be trust and points out that “Time and truth build trust.” You need to put in the time and accept the need for honesty.

Hutcheson also recommends establishing a structure for the mentorship, as well as setting expectations. Some mentoring is designed to assist with a specific problem or project; others blossom into what she describes as a “Godfather Mentor,” one “who serves as life coach, career counselor and skills developer — all in one.” These Godfather Mentors can often open doors and provide useful introductions.

If you are in a mentoring program, Hutcheson recommends you have an honest discussion of what worked and what didn’t, as the program ends — a post mortem, if you will. If positive, she suggests discussing how the relationship might be extended beyond the program.

The audiobook, The In’s & Out’s of Mentoring, by Peggy Hutcheson is available free at IEEE members may also download the companion e-book for free.

After graduating from The University of Georgia, Peggy Hutcheson, Ph.D., began working as a journalist — before discovering what would be her lifetime calling: career development. She received a Ph.D. from Georgia State University, with a concentration in organizational career development. She is the founding partner of the Odyssey Group, a firm specializing in products and services for organizations and individuals to connect people to changing work roles.

Hutcheson is a past chair of the IEEE-USA Employment and Career Services Committee. She has also served on the IEEE-USA Communications Committee. Hutcheson has contributed to five books to IEEE-USA E-BOOKS, and co-authored Helping Employees Manage Careers. Her contributions have been recognized with leadership awards from ASTD (now ATD), IEEE-USA and Georgia State University.


Paul Lief Rosengren

Paul Lief Rosengren is a frequent contributor to IEEE-USA InSight and author of the Famous Women Engineers in History series. He also co-authored In the Time of COVID: One Hospital’s Struggles and Triumphs about the first year of COVID at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, NJ. Rosengren previously worked in internal and external communications for the State of New Jersey, NBC, PSEG, and BD. While at PSEG, he was a founding member of the PSEG Diversity Council, initiated and facilitated the PSEG D&I Book Club and received the PR News Diversity Award.

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