We just happen to be writing this to you on Top Gun Day. The Navy’s elite pilot training program, officially named the “Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor” program, or SFTI (pronounced ‘siff-tee’), is not an actual school, but rather a graduate level, practical application course loaded with classroom and real-world training and tactics development. It was called Top Gun long before the movie came out in 1986, yet today, you’ll have to give your instructor or squadron mate a “fiver” if you ever refer to it as such.
During their 12 weeks at TOPGUN, pilots learn to “think outside the 9 dots”, operate on the edge of the envelope, “fly below the deck”, or to be a real Maverick, using alternative fighter maneuverability and countermeasure tactics, time management and preparation.
It is the ultimate dojo. It was the first Center of Excellence before the term even existed.
Above all else, its graduates learn how to take what they have mastered there and share it with pilots back at their command. In reality, they are trained to be best mentors possible.
While only the top one percent of naval aviators attend this course, its learning is spread through the NAV by teaching the best of the best to be even better, or more elite, and then spread that “eliteness” to the rest.
A Good Mentor is Better Than All the Training in the World
While this might sound somewhat provocative, and subject to serious discussion, there is an awful lot of support for the statement — both statistically and from individuals who have enjoyed the benefits of being mentored. Much is expected of employees in today’s workplace, and training is not always available from employers who are trying to economize in order to reduce expenses.
So how can you get up to speed quickly, with fewer resources available to you, and demonstrate that you can be a valuable asset to a company? One of the best ways is to find a mentor who can guide you through the learning process quickly and help fast-track you past many of the sometimes-painful lessons that must be learned along the way. Here are some of the benefits which can accrue to a person with guidance from a good mentor — at work and in life.
The Role of a Mentor
Mentors can serve several different roles in helping you learn the essentials more quickly. In some cases, providing a quick tip can be solid gold in becoming proficient or knowledgeable about an activity; and that information might have taken much longer to acquire on your own. In other situations, a mentor might feed you a constant stream of support and encouragement to help keep you on track. Without directing you, a mentor can simply offer guidance that will help keep you on the right path to avoid career pitfalls which might derail your drive to success.
Mentors also serve in the role of a sounding board, willing to listen and to offer their own recommendations to you. This can be far more important than it sounds, yet quite often in life, all you really need is to get something off your chest and relate it to a sympathetic colleague. Their feedback and encouragement will be enough to keep you going, striving to achieve your objectives. A caring mentor who is genuinely interested in advancing your career can show you how everything you learn on this job can be put to use somehow on your next one — in other words, how to extract the greatest value from all your experiences.
If a mentor has done a good job of guiding you, you will have learned some of the most important lessons for your career and for your life. This learning will then put you in a much better position to become a leader yourself, when the time comes. What you’ve learned along the way can become immensely useful in helping you guide the lives and careers of others, and you will be armed with the knowledge you need to earn ever increasing responsibility and create greater success.
Benefits of Being Mentored
One very useful benefit of being mentored is that you’re likely to have access to a much broader network of knowledgeable individuals, simply because of the association with your mentor. Any questions which you might have that your mentor is unable to answer, might very well be solved by someone in his/her network, and that’s all a big benefit to you.
There is no doubt, in many cases, having a good mentor will increase the number of chances you have for career advancement. Mentors will often be aware of upcoming opportunities before you personally could learn about them, and they might also be able to give you a positive referral to a potential employer. All that gives you a leg up on the competition, and that might be just enough to earn you the position.
Sweat In the Dojo
A mentor is also a great person to bounce your ideas off, for instance if you’ve been thinking about developing a new product, or if you have invented something new. Your mentor can help you plan and organize your activities, so as to bring your product to the marketplace, and he/she also may be able to advise you on potential pitfalls and hazards. This just might be the difference between success or failure in your new enterprise.
There is also a certain element of accountability when you discuss your ideas with a mentor. When you relate your intentions and your goals to a mentor, it obliges you to follow through on them, and it makes you accountable to some extent. This makes it far more likely that you will follow through on ideas you have, and it means you will probably experience greater success earlier in your career.
A Mentor Helps You Shape the Future
Problem-solving is one of the big areas where a mentor can come into play, because a mentor will generally have much more experience at your position and can help you solve issues which are troubling you. It might cost you a great deal of valuable time and effort to experience these missteps and mistakes inherent in the job, but a mentor can help you sidestep many of these problems and solve issues before they develop into major problems.
You can often get an entirely different perspective on an issue by listening to a mentor, because even though they are in some way involved in your industry, they will also generally have a certain detachment which removes them from the immediacy of an issue. This will help by providing impartial advice from a professional, and it may be extremely useful for you to take a different look at something so you can handle it better.
Mentors can be extremely valuable for keeping you on track and keeping you focused, especially given the fact there are so many distractions which can derail your activities. Having a person who can keep you focused on the goal, and your energies directed toward achieving that goal, can be priceless in terms of accomplishing your objectives.
Why Not Have More Than One?
In the big picture, a good mentor will almost always further your personal development and help you to become a better professional and a more knowledgeable worker. When you have numerous opportunities to discuss things with people who are more experienced than yourself, it can help you grow more quickly and to become more proficient at your job.
According to W. Brad Johnson, PhD, a Professor of psychology in the Department of Leadership, Ethics and Law at the United States Naval Academy, and a Faculty Associate in the Graduate School of Education at Johns Hopkins University, it’s best … to find more than one mentor, Johnson advises. “Make a constellation of mentors,” he says. “Don’t put all of your expectations on one person to meet your needs developmentally”.
Benefits for an Organization
Mentorship equals happier employees. Among millennials notorious for job-hopping, 68 percent say they stayed with a company over five years when they had a mentor.
Happiness is, of course, an elusive thing; so how can happiness be traced back to mentoring? MentorcliQ found tight bonds in the workplace translate into lower turnover rates. Employees with one to five work friends were 62 percent more likely to reject an even better job offer. That percentage jumps to 70 when this circle exceeds six or more. Mentorship helps build this web of close relationships within the workplace.
Aid to talent acquisition
Currently, 54 percent of workers reportedly don’t have a mentor, and 76 percent view it as important to their overall success. Having a strong mentorship program is a benefit for companies trying to attract top talent. It indicates the organization cares about its employees, and that personal and professional development is a cornerstone to the organization’s success.
Human Resource departments should actively sell mentorship as a feature of the organization, right alongside 401K and health-care benefits. Potential employees want to know what their career development will look like if they join the organization. Other companies will talk about sending employees off to a conference once a year or the wealth of experience they will learn on the job, but traditional efforts pale in comparison to the career development that can take place under a structured mentoring program.
Few corporate initiatives reach as many areas of employee growth and fulfillment as mentoring. Companies that fail to embrace the benefits of mentorship are missing out on a prime opportunity to be more than just a place to collect a paycheck.
A good mentor pushes you out of your comfort zone. They boost your self esteem and confidence. They provide knowledge and advice to allow you to overcome challenges that block your way. They help you grow personally and professionally in ways that can be exceedingly difficult without such guidance.
Ultimately, having had good mentor to work with throughout your career will probably help you to become a great mentor yourself when the time comes. Sharing your knowledge and experience with others is not only personally rewarding, but it can also open up new opportunities and new perspectives for you as an individual.
Ready to begin your journey with a mentor? It would be good to read the suggestions of the American Psychology Association on Getting Your Mentoring Relationship Off to a Good Start. You should also know we are here for you, as well. Having lead in the diagnostics industry for decades, and now deeply, widely networked across genomics and genetics for diagnostics and biotech, we can provide all the insights described above, and then some. That’s what the plus sign in Cerca Talent+ is all about. We are something far more than your average recruiting firm.
Call us today for a free consultation to see if we can help. Whether it’s to bounce some ideas around, find focus or Top Gun Talent, or just for a little encouragement, we are always ready to lend a hand.
Scott Rivers is the Managing Director of Cerca Talent+, a talent agency for the Diagnostic and Life Science Industries. Scott’s recruiting experience extends into the areas of Diagnostics, Life Sciences, Oncology and Genetics. His team manages recruitment for all levels within the commercial area of these businesses.
As a leader who has worked at all levels of commercial, medical sales and global marketing, Scott is an intense professional who works with organizations to fine tune talent branding. If you are a leader looking to expand your team with professionals who are focused on delivering work in which they take pride, and you can be proud of, every day, then Scott would be privileged to help you in the process. Having been a professional in the fields where you focus, Scott knows the ins and outs of the companies, the business and the customers you are working to come alongside.
Cerca Talent+ is a full-service Executive Search Firm with a strategic focus in the areas of Clinical Diagnostics, Molecular Diagnostics and Oncology, Genomic and Genetic Medicine. Our clients choose Cerca because of our deep understanding of the industries we serve. They continue to work with us based on our extensive market knowledge, vast connections and quality of results.
That’s a good match for any company. Partner with the group that can talk shop and gain rapport with the pros who will lead your business into the future. Email Scott Rivers today at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call direct at 201-594-2101, and we will begin the process of finding you Top Gun Talent guaranteed to help you set records.
Nayv.mil, Story Number: NNS160516-23Release Date: 5/16/2016 4:19:00 PM, Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Everett Allen, Defense Media Activity
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Scott Rivers – Helping clients build world class teams as a recruiting leader in Oncology, Genetics, Diagnostics and Life Sciences
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