Mentorship and organizational induction.

John joined this vital and vibrant church. He felt refreshed during the worship experience. He loved the teachings. He felt God while within the church service. However after the service he felt like an intruder. Coming from an unchurched background,  he could not understand the language and the unspoken values of the church. When he tried talking to people he seemed to always violate some unwritten rule of the church. He just did not feel like he belonged. After a few months of being lonely within a crowd, he left the church.

Organisations can easily become too exclusive and inward looking because by nature people tend to lock out those who are new or different. Organisational culture can serve as a deterrent to new members. In business lingo a strong organizational culture may serve as an entry barrier.  Introduce a new person to a business and suddenly he feels out of place while the insiders of the organization are also uncomfortable with the stranger.  Once the stranger arrives, conversations change and become measured.

Mentorship is a powerful tool to allow a new comer to be inducted into an organization whether it is a church, a business or just a social club. By creating mentorship relationships with new comers it allows them a soft landing into the new environment. The organizational mentor will explain the idiosyncracies of the organization, will answer questions that are embarrassing to ask publicly, will help the new comer to adjust and be accepted by the others. The mentor can help with enculturation by helping the new comer to assimilate and internalise the culture of the organization. Organisational mentors will assist the newcomer to navigate the murky waters of organizational politics. An organizational mentor will introduce the new person into newer relationships thereby widening his circle of friends.

I remember joining a new organization where during social outings I would spend more time to myself because the organization seemed full of cliques and I could not tell whether I was welcome into any of them. Any attempt to speak to some of the veterans, brought embarrassment as I could not be sure whether I was welcome into the closed clique. It appeared like I was disturbing a certain level of intimacy that had developed within the group. Could I be trusted? I was beginning to consider myself a misfit within the organization when one of the leaders took me under his wings and introduced me to people. Once I had the cover of this leader, I was now accepted into the fraternity. The mentor walked me through the formal and informal power centres within the organization. This greatly helped my assimilation and induction.

It is therefore critical to ensure some form of organizational induction through a “buddy” to new comers. Churches and organizations lose people who are interested in their cause due to lack of proper induction. Mentorship can and will help reduce this loss. It leads to retention of members. It has been proven that a key to retention of members within an organisation is a strong network of informal social relationships. Mentorshipsbuilds a strong web of informal relationships which help produce a sense of identity and belonging.

Churches and businesses could mobilise, deploy and retain new skills faster and longer through organisational mentorship.

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  • Reply Revolution Senda April 16, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    The subject of induction has always been a pain in the neck. To the grade one pupil it has led to fear as newcomers are bullied by the older buddies at school who know all the tricks. To the newcomer at a boarding school it has always been a nightmare as the seasoned buddies always find a way of manipulating him or her who is still brand new in terms of norms and practices. They always have a way of unpacking the newness in an individual in a manner that leaves him torn apart. Some argue that this awakens the person to a new environment but in actual fact this is not the case. Instead the newcomer feels completely out of place. Dr Makoni l believe that this is the right message for this plethora of insensitivity whose effects date back from time immemorial. This mentorship remedy allows newcomers a soft landing spot lest they fall into hard rock as has always been the case in most situations.

    What criteria should be used to select an organizational mentor to facilitate a smooth induction into the system? Should there be mechanisms to ensure ethical methods of induction especially in organizations? We look forward to more of these educational sessions with you Doc. We are indeed grateful for them

  • Reply Wizzy April 16, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    I totally can relate in so many ways. many times I have felt like an outsider. I quickly discovered that its because I have a total different outlook to life than whats expected. I am not part “The Norm” When ever I go somewhere especially where Zimbabwean are gathered, I can be an alien. But I never worry about it, I can just let people talk as i watch them do their thing and when its time for me to speak, then I give my whole soul, I shine which always ends up in my favour. I also think that sometimes we are too hard on ourselves. Not fitting in definitely doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. Its not a bad thing at times. It actually builds you. It can allow you to focus on your ambitions. I think that people that are unique have made a huge impact in the world. As someone who metors people, I so totally agree on mentoring. Work, Groups, Schools, organisations etc should provide mentoring. I truly believe that mentoring is a win-win-win situation. Mentoring offers a person someone that they can talk to and someone to help support/guide them. A mentor is a friend. A mentor can be anyone. A mentor helps you make the right choices. A mentor helps open your mind to meeting/experiencing new people, places, and things.

    • Reply nurturingchampions April 20, 2010 at 9:55 am

      That is so true. You should always seek to control your own destiny by taking initiative. Do not allow newness in a certain setting to limit your impact.

  • Reply Nelson Ndlovu April 19, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    True that Doc. Guilty as charged, often I find myself so caught up in my own little world, hurrying to get hold of so and so otherwise I wont be able to get hold of them for another week or so.That I often times miss the lonely figure standing in the corner, looking around shyly for a welcoming face, looking for a place of refuge in a cold world, especialy after coming out of a seemingly inviting atmosphere, Im sure “John Doe” is confused of what became of the undevided attention he just a few minutes ago had. And begins to wonder if the Ndebele saying is true, that “ubukhosi ngamazolo” *rulership is as the morning dew* there only for a few minutes, but gone as soon as dawn sets in and the harsh reality of the sun begins to cast its intense rays of life. So help us help ourselves change our cold shouldered attitude towards the stranger huddled and cold in the corner, so we may pull “John” closer to the fire and warmth of relationships in our diverse entities, so he may take his much needed place amongst us.

    • Reply nurturingchampions April 20, 2010 at 10:09 am

      Yes Nelson. We need to make new comers in churches and organisations welcome so that their input can be easily deployed sooner.

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