Mentoring in progressive times

by Kirsten Avison

As a follow up to my previous blog about what it takes to be a great mentor, and as I am beginning to take on more responsibilities as a mentor here at Wazuku, I have found myself wondering about the skills I can pass on that will be relevant for the future.

In 2017, that’s the million-dollar question. Thanks to the rapid pace of automation and disruption, most of the skills we need to do our jobs today will likely become obsolete within 10 years. Many of the skills our grandparents used regularly have already gone that way – how many people do you know who sew their own clothes?

There are already fully automated restaurants. Driverless cars are coming. Even professional services will not be immune.

Given this reality, as a mentor who wants to provide truly useful knowledge transfer and training, what’s the best approach?

If I had to bet, I would say that the skills we are going to need most in the near future are more social and behavioural and less technical than the ones we grew up thinking were crucial for success. We may be close to computers that can make good investment decisions for us, but we are a long way away from machines that are able to read a room, capture the nuance of emotion or use culturally sensitive powers of persuasion.

These are the skills I use every day in my job as a strategic planning consultant, and they’re the ones I’m going to try to pass on. This year my approach to mentorship will be focused on valuing process over product. In mentorship, and pretty much everything else, solid processes lead to solid product – without those processes you will never get the results you are hoping for.

I’ll have my mentees shadow and observe me in action. I’ll encourage lots of questions and take the time to explain the motivations, processes and intuition that guide my actions. That’s how I’ll help my mentees develop tools and skillsets to remain relevant in a rapidly progressing environment, where hard earned skills are quickly becoming obsolete.

Kirsten Avison is an Associate at Wazuku Advisory Group and a key member of the strategic advisory team where she facilitates engaging sessions, manages projects, conducts thorough strategic analyses and develops strong and lasting relationships with clients.