One of the qualities for an effective leader is your ability to mentor your team, but what does that mean in the modern workforce? Like it or not the world of work is changing. Economic risk has been shifted from the employer to the employee. Twenty years ago most employees where direct hirers. Today, a third of workers in the United States are third party employees. In other words, the worker is rented from Cleaning Services, Inc or Rent-A-Cop.com. Even semi professional jobs like accounting and paralegal are being outsourced to India or being automated.
The world of work is not what it used to be. Career paths are no longer a matter of getting a good job with a big company and advancing up the career ladder based on time and experience. Routine jobs are contracted out. Often, the employee shows up for work and is told they are not needed today, come back tomorrow. Third party contractors have replaced the Union Hiring Hall.
Modern businesses are flattening the old hierarchical business model. The pyramid style business is fading away. Bosses manage teams rather than people. Businesses hirer potential team leaders who have a broad base of skills and a proven record of accomplishment. Routine jobs are contracted from what has become a hiring hall. When a company has work you get hired. If business is slow, you don’t work.
Is freelancing in your future?
So in the gig economy half the work force is going to be freelancers. To get work you are going to have to stand out from the crowd. You will get work and be paid based on your skills and accomplishments. You are going to have to manage you career like a business. You must brand yourself and always be looking for better opportunities. Employers want to know what you have accomplished and what skills you have that can help them get their job done. A college degree may get you considered for a job, but most employers don’t care about who you worked for five years ago.
Three quarters of the workforce do not see a clear career path in their present job, and ¾ of businesses say the expect to face a shortage of workers with the skills the company needs. (Source ) That is a disparity that has to worry any business leader. The key to retaining the skilled workers needed in your business is the opportunity your employees have to advance their careers. When a smart employee feels the job no longer provides opportunity for growth that employee will be looking for another job.
What is effective mentoring?
Whether you are managing your career or are a business leader managing a team you are a mentor. Whether the person you are mentoring is your self or your team asking questions can help clarify career goals and opportunities.
When planning your career don’t lock yourself into a narrow niche. Doing so may prevent you from seeing broader opportunities. Forget about the traditional career path. Working up the Corporate Ladder doesn’t exist any more.
A good mentor will explore your calling and find out what you want to accomplish in life. A mentor will ask:
- what problems you see that excite you?
- what experiences have you had that can help solve those problems?
- What changes do you want to make in the way you live?
Concentrate on transferable skills.
Can you create or maintain a website? Do you know how to draw traffic to your website? Are you skilled at email marketing? Can you configure and autoresponder? Can you write content that both your reader and the search engines spyders will find interesting? Can you code? What applications are you proficient with? What skills do you need to develop that your team needs. Can you write a report? How can you contribute more effectiely to the problems you team is working on? What skills do you lack that might be holding you back?
Mentors need mentors. No matter where you are in your career support from your network is vital to your success.
Set milestones to recognize your achievements.
It may be achieving certification in a skill. It may be completing a project. Develop a portfolio of accomplishments rather than the traditional resume. Whether you have a job or a business, brand yourself. Let people know about your skills and you accomplishments.
When setting milestones ask: “What is the next step? How can I define my next milestone so I know when it is completed?” “What should I name my next milestone?” “How can I share what I’ve learned with others?
You cannot predict the future
The scary thing about the new world of work is you don’t know what is coming next. How do you deal with change when you don’t know what that change will be. Futurists look at trends and develop scenarios for what could happen. They are not predicting the future. They are simply saying these things could happen. One scenario is no more likely to happen than another. We cannot predict the future but we can prepare for it. We need to be a polymath, a jack of all trades and a master of one.
Life is becoming more complex and unpredictable. Jobs are no longer secure. In fact you may never have a job where tenure is assured. Is your retirement plan on track? Most sixty year olds in America have less than $1000 in savings.
Will you be able to retire?
There are two things we know will happen in our lives, death and taxes. There will be a time when you are no longer employable. If you are 50 and have been out of work for a year, your chances of getting a job are near zero. If you are in construction and get a back injury what are you going to do?
The good thing is knowing that every experience you have had and every relationship you have developed adds to your life. What you have to do is have a clear understanding of what you think are the most important thing in your life. Then develop a plan to help you accomplish those most important things. Approach life as a series of small experiments. If something looks interesting to you, test it to find out if it is really something you want to do.
Create resilience in your life.
I am an advocate for building resilience into our lives. Financial resilience means you have an income that continues whether you can work or not. Personal resilience means we are ready to deal with the chaos of life. The quality of our environment has a major impact on our longevity and the quality of our lives. You cannot control climate change, but you do have some control over the environment you live in and you can team up with others to force politicians to maintain a healthy environment for all of us.
Networking and the people we associate with will determine the course of our lives. When you meet someone who shares your values don’t let that person float through you life like a feather in the wind. Build and nurture your relationships. Stay in touch with the people who are important in your life. Touch bases with them at least 3-4 times a year. People move and we loose track of them. Nurture relationships and don’t let your friends fade away.