Mentoring has been around forever, and before it was called mentoring, it was known as apprenticeship—the training novices went through before they could become journeymen. The apprenticeship training paired a master craftsman with a novice, and over a period of years, the old master imparted his techniques, tricks, and shortcuts, as well as his wisdom, to the apprentice.
The industrial revolution largely put an end to this tradition which today is practiced only in the highly skilled trades, usually under a union regimen. Happily, for us, mentoring is alive and well in the manufacturing world. Good thing, too, because a good mentor is invaluable to your growth.
Both of us (Carl and Bryan) have been fortunate enough to have been mentored, and both of us have been honored to being able to mentor others. Now unless you work for a company that has a structured mentoring program (and that’s unlikely in a manufacturing plant), you are faced with:
a) Actually realizing you need a mentor.
b) Finding one.
We hope you realize the benefits of having a mentor. If so, finding one is relatively easy—you work with him. He might be sitting in the desk to your right, or you might find him in your boss’s office—that’s right, your boss.
Your mentor should possess the temperament to help people and a willingness to do so. Many people have one or the other quality, but fewer have both in equal measure. Your mentor will probably be one of the calmer personalities in your work world. He will be the guy who will listen to all opinions until it is time to make a decision. And he’ll make those decisions with little hesitation and no self-doubt.
He’ll be the guy who is rarely impulsive or rash. More importantly, he is likely to be one of the guys to spend significant time On The Plant Floor. If promotions have removed him from the plant floor, he will spend time griping about it.
Find this guy and tell him you need his advice on how to lead people and improve production performance because you want to do a good job. If you believe your words, he will too. And he will know better than you that asking for his help does not show your weakness, but that you understand there is no substitute for experience.
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