It’s Monday morning, time to reset my to-do list and goals. At first glance, this will be another busy week filled with opportunities to support and advise my client through their ongoing transformation, attend a networking event with financial services professionals, and personal activities ranging from end-of-school activities to sports to getting ready for summer camp. Regardless of what I have going on, I am always focused on developing the talents of the junior members of my team.
In many ways, the next generation of consultants are the cornerstone of our business. When I look at my week ahead, I make a daily habit to develop a plan for mentoring others by asking these questions:
- What can I do this week to add value to my mentees?
- What can I do this week to help a junior team member develop a new skill or refine a current skill?
- Is there an introduction I can make to someone inside of or outside of my organization?
- Is there a new workstream they can get involved with?
For me, the answers to these opportunities manifest in several different forms.
Monday: Teach a technical skill.
I like to sit with a junior colleague and walk through in detail what they were trying to accomplish on a client engagement. After listening, I look for opportunities to give this individual a chance to focus on a specific skill. As we go through the best practices, we realize a priceless opportunity to develop presentation skills, build a trusted advisor relationship with the management team, and share insights at an update meeting. When the client gains the comfort to call our junior colleagues with questions and doesn’t need to call our senior team members, it’s a huge reward for everyone.
Tuesday: Share a thought.
Whether it’s sending a copy of Atomic Habits by James Clear to a new teammate or texting a link to a recent Mindset Mentor podcast by Rob Dial focused on the 10 Things Successful People Do, it’s part of my DNA to share the incredible things I have learned. As the author Jim Kwik of the book Limitless says: “Genius leaves clues”. The more I can learn from those that have already had success, the more I can grow and share with others.
Wednesday: Facilitate introductions.
As we emerged from lockdown over the past few months, there have been several large "NextGen" social events. I recently partnered with an individual at another firm to bring together a few junior colleagues for the chance to meet new people and develop relationships. It was a fun evening and a great networking opportunity. It's never too early to start building relationships.
Thursday: Shine the spotlight.
We’re meeting with the client to discuss the status of our recent activities. Who can I invite to this discussion? What contributions can they make? Perhaps a strong voice, even if it’s not mine, could add value or even lead the team forward.
Friday: Set the example.
I have embarked on a personal journey over the last 18 months to set up a consistent morning routine that starts at 5 am and involves working out, meditating, listening to business and self-development podcasts, and reading books. This successful habit opened my eyes to the endless possibilities to grow and succeed when you start your day with intention. My day doesn’t stop with my morning routine. It’s part of my duty to take my learnings and habits and share them with my mentees.
My own experiences are driving this commitment to professional development. When I started in restructuring over 8 years ago, I benefited from one of the senior members of my team showing me the "right" way to work: improving my technical skills; cultivating my relationships with industry leaders; and enhancing my interaction with management teams. At an early stage of my first deal, I vividly remember putting together my first 13-week cash flow model. Admittedly, I was struggling until this leader sent me a note instilling his confidence. He wrote: “My job is to make you a superstar by the end of this project!” His very personal approach to the mentor/mentee relationship has stuck with me for all these years (I still carry the note with me), and his guidance shaped the manager and leader I am today. It’s incumbent on me to pay it forward and help perpetuate the firm by continuing to develop, mentor and coach those around me with confidence.
What if we all joined in the efforts to grow our next generation of professionals to perpetuate the industry? If we create a culture where everyone has a deliberate focus to “take people with them” and improve everyone around them, each organization would surely improve its sense of belonging. There are likely other benefits too, including cohesive teams, true partnerships, and genuine loyalty. And since we’re in the business of helping external clients, high-performing junior professionals will undoubtedly increase our excellent client service. I know what's on my to-do list this week. Will you add mentorship to yours?