Mentorships can provide an immense, and often surprising, benefit to both mentor and mentee. Happy humans are productive
humans, which is why I am so enthusiastic about establishing a
mentorship program for anyone who needs or wants guidance.
According to the Harvard Business Review, “An increasing body
of research shows that work and employment are not the only
drivers of people’s happiness, but that happiness can itself help to
shape job market outcomes, productivity and even firm perfor-
mance. Being happy at work thus
isn’t just a personal matter; it’s
also an economic one.”
I have been mentoring employ-
ees inside my firm, as well as col-
leagues and acquaintances out-
side my business, for the past 20
years. Not only has it been a pas-
sion of mine to help professionals
at every level—from maintenance
workers to C-suite executives—
reach their potential, but I also
have been mentored by an out-
side consultant for the past 28
years. Since I have reaped the benefits of my experience as both a
mentor and mentee, roles, I can offer these helpful tips for anyone who may want to establish a mentorship program.
Find the right match. It’s essential to find the right fit, both from
a professional and emotional standpoint. For example, an outgoing, gregarious person may not be able to adapt their communication style to a quiet introvert. You must have the information
delivered in a way that can be heard. If it doesn’t feel right, keep
looking for other people or organizations who can help you. A
mentor should never make you feel insecure or amplify your
inner self-critic. This person should make you feel empowered.
Create trust. Both sides must commit to the process of mentorship. It’s important to communicate regularly (at least once every
30 days), dancing that fine line between being respectful of each
other’s time and not feeling like either party has stepped out of
the relationship. If I don’t hear from my mentee, I know it’s a red
flag and I’ll call them. The way I look at it, the mentor and mentee should actually care about each other.
Work your weaknesses. One of the biggest benefits of a mentor is
having a sounding board to brainstorm solutions and encourage
action. My husband and I founded and operate our firm together,
and it came to a point where neither of us had the answers. It was
starting to hurt us and our relationship. Working with our mentor
made us more aware of the issues that we needed to face head on.
His input was custom-tailored to our needs and we had someone to
hold us accountable. In school, we’re penalized for making mistakes. In CRE, you cannot only learn from your mistakes, but grow
a stronger system out of them.
Look before you leap. A good mentor will make you stop and
think. They are there to help you navigate uncharted waters. If
mentees are unsure of their next move, they are more apt to stop
and ask intelligent questions before they proceed. Thus, a mentor benefits from a more stable work environment that is less vulnerable to his or her staff going off the rails. If you don’t walk
away from a mentor with a new level of understanding, you’ve
probably wasted your time.
Get to the next level. At a certain stage in your career, you realize you want to know more but haven’t figured out the path to
get there. Careers are made by taking that next step. Something
presents itself to you—a business opportunity, a job opportunity,
a learning opportunity—and you decide to go for it. A mentor
can help you capitalize on new introductions, new skills and new
deals in ways that you may never have thought of before.
Create a more cohesive culture. Organizations that tend to hire
individuals possessing a basic skill set should rely on mentoring
as a more effective way to impart the nuances of their business on
less seasoned professionals. You also create an expectation that
everyone will move in the same direction and interact well.
People who experience the satisfaction of tangible growth feel
more secure within themselves. They’re more focused on their
job and less distracted by office politics.
As I reflect on the many mentorships I have observed over the
past two decades, the biggest takeaway is that you are more even-keeled with this process. You create more predictable results
because everyone is moving in the same direction and aware of
the desired end game. Despite all the challenges that may emerge
in the commercial real estate space, from human resources to
regulations and cash flow concerns, mentoring delivers a
smoother ride. When you can help people become a better version of themselves, you bring out the best in them. ◆
The Transformational Power
Of Mentorship Programs
Despite all the challenges
that may emerge in CRE, from
human resources to cash
flow concerns, mentoring
delivers a smoother ride.
BY CINDY SHOPOFF
Cindy Shopoff is principal at Shopoff Realty Investments. The views
expressed here are the author’s own and not those of the ALM Real
Estate Media Group or its publications.