Be a Mentor
Fundamental No. 18 - Be a mentor. Take responsibility, both formally and informally, to coach, guide, teach, and mentor others. Contributing to the success of others enhances your own success and well-being, as well as the firm's.
I have heard this refrain from numerous new JW employees: "Everyone is so nice and helpful!" Such comments reflect an aspect of the JW Way that has grown organically over the years. We like the people we work with; we understand the value it brings to JW for new employees to get up to speed faster; we understand it makes us feel better about ourselves to help others; and helping our colleagues is just the right thing to do. For all of these reasons and more, helping each other succeed is an integral part of our culture.
Mentoring is valuable both professionally and personally for both people. It is a transfer of knowledge and requires honest and open feedback from both parties to be successful. It is a journey rather than a destination and can take on many different forms. The most familiar one is coaching, guiding, teaching. The image here is the older, wiser person assisting the younger, less experienced person, teaching the newby the "ropes". While this certainly is an extremely important aspect of mentoring, another aspect deserves mention as well. In this model, mentoring is really a matter of reinforcing our goal culture, with the mentor acting in the role of accountability partner, helping the mentee define and achieve SMART goals. This aspect of mentoring involves intellectual honesty, asking tough questions and giving honest feedback. In this role, the mentor doesn't need to be older or wiser, or more experienced, than the mentee; the only prerequisites are a mentee willing to accept honest feedback and a mentor willing to give it. This year, at the equity level, we have taken on this role amongst ourselves, with each of us acting both as an accountability partner and as a recipient of accountability input, giving and accepting feedback, advice and constructive criticism. While the system is new, it has already produced beneficial results, as we learn about ourselves and grow in both roles.
While some of us are mentors and some of us are mentees in the more traditional mentoring role, we can all be mentors to each other as "accountability partners" in making the JW Way part of all of us, every day, in every way. If someone falls short in a JW Fundamental, it is every JW employee's right and responsibility to nicely and respectfully discuss the matter with the person. We all agree that we want to live the JW Way all the time, but we also acknowledge that we don't always control our emotions the way we should, and stress and other circumstances cause us to fall short of the mark. This is when the mentoring culture of JW is most important and necessary. The point is not to be critical or to impose punishment (Value #12 –Blameless Problem Solving), it is to helping a co-worker understand how that person's actions fell short of what we expect of each other, with the goal of avoiding the same result in the future. It is about learning and growing and helping each other.
About the author: Gary J. Jaburg is the managing partner of the Phoenix law firm of Jaburg Wilk. He assists clients with employment and business matters, workouts of financial issues and business divorce.