Mentoring For Parenting


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this is a short discussion topic on mentoring, whether it should start early at home, and the need for mentoring parents so that future societies are made up of competent, confident and good citizens and employees

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Mentoring For Parenting

  1. 1. Mentoring for parenting Mentoring has generated interests among corporates as well as professional academic institutions in recent times. The trigger for this appears to be the emerging issue of employability of graduates from professional institutions and the experience employers have had in dealing with the new entrants. It is reported that only about 20% of graduates who pass out of our (Indian context) professional educational institutions are considered employable. This issue was originally projected as lack of social sills, poor oral and written communication, low awareness of business etiquette, presentation skills and so on. It was easy to straight jacket the problem into known tagged areas of competency development, as it also suited the business interests of those offering such branded services as well as those procuring the same. However the real issue of employability is more than the four or so key words as above. The real issue is one of how can a new recruit prove to be of value to the organisation employing him /her. This value comes from the ability of the candidate to effectively participate in and productively contribute to the organisation’s goals, and be seen to be so, by those responsible for the individual (the supervisors). There are two dimensions to this: the rational and the emotional. The rational part is the knowledge aspect i.e the candidate being knowledgeable about the organisation’s vision, mission, goals, line of business, the stated and unstated expectations, and the organisational and the business contextual ecosystem. The emotional part refers to all dimensions of how the candidate will respond to different situations, reflected through his / her conduct and actions, when confronted with a non-standard situation. Typical / standard situations are never the testing ground! Executives and managers are expected to be groomed to handle situations different from what the working (shop floor) class is expected to (carry out repetitive tasks as per predetermined programs for which they have been trained). Here what primarily count is skills. The behavioural element is inbuilt into the laid down policies, procedures, SoPs, processes…. However, for the executive class, the expectations are more than handling programmed maintenance functions, but be able to handle unfolding issues, forward looking thinking and actions, innovations, leading and handling change and so on, requiring unique inherent traits and qualities that become determining factors in employability. 1
  2. 2. The behavioual part is shaped by the internalised notions of what one should desire for (ends) as an outcome, what means one should adopt to achieve the ends, what actions are considered right and wrong, what is rewarding and penalised, what is celebrated and castigated, what one wants and what price one is willing to pay, what is the time horizon under consideration, what options one has, how far will one go to pursue one’s goals, what derives comfort and otherwise, what are one’s value systems that guide behaviour. The behavioual element surfaces only when one is confronted with and has to resolve conflicts, both external and internal. This guiding beacon in conflicting situations is otherwise known as superordinate goals. Conflict situations where one is expected and compelled to take certain course of action are always emotionally stressful. Sometimes individuals are at a loss in such situations. Sometimes, the internal conflicts fueled by external pressures overshadows rational approach and one tends to lose balance and guided by pressure points, go against one’s own conscience, seek asylum in short term gains for one self as a fait accompli, and so on. Such reactions are primarily due to not having been exposed and subjected to perform in such demanding situations, under guidance of some one in whom one trusts, who has the knowledge, experience, maturity to assess the situation, shows empathy with the junior, has the willingness to lend a shoulder to lean, who is perceived to have no axe to grind from the situation itself. Mentoring is the healthy relationship between such an experienced person (mentor) and the one seeking such support (the mentee). The concept of mentoring has gained prominence in the recent past due to the short time within which one has to demonstrate productivity and deliver on expectations. The primary driver for this has been the new technology industry which grew very fast in a short time, with overflowing opportunities for new professional entrants, high rewards and expectations. It is also attributed to the opening up of the economy in the early nineties that brought with it opportuities and threats, placed demands on unlearing and relearning, and expected delivery in emerging business and organisational contexts. The sudden growth phase was equally a period of unlearning and relearning, test of adaptabality and delivery capabilities even for seasoned professionals. Hence it provided low reaction, learning and delivery time for the juniors. It was a phase of discovery for all, but more demanding for the green tribe as they are not exposed to tricky, conflicting and demanding situations. The challenge became one of managing complexity. The word mentoring and its 2
  3. 3. associated terminology became key words in the corporate, training and higher education sector. Mentoring is generally assciated with the process of handling / preparing for the transition of professional graduates from the education space to employment space. It primarily fills the gap between the capability attained by the candidates through formal knowledge acquisition in the classrooms on theretical concepts, and meeting stated and implied expectations in the workspace. It is a process of sharing of informal knowledge of the organisational and business ecosystem by the mentor, an individual with considerable experience in working life, to the mentee, the recepient of the inputs. It is also, extending emotional support, handholding, providing a wall to lean, confidence building, someone to share with, confide in, seek guidance, give direction and motivate, someone in whom one develops confidence to seek genuine advice, empathy. A mentor is one who has no axe to grind from the relationship with the mentee, at the same time has the knowledge and experience based competence and emotional maturity to understand, foresee, visualise, weigh, the problem posed by the mentee. The realtionship is not driven by any financial gains for the mentor or compulsion to go by the advice of the mentor, by the mentee. The process of mentoring is purely voluntary, based on mutually perceived compatibility and need for the relationship through a perceived collective emotional gain for the mentor and mentee. The relationships is not prescriptive, there are no rules, no deadlines, no hierarchy, no monetary expectations….It is largely an informal emotional support based on the chemical bonding between two individuals, and in a limited sense sharing practical experience, extending the benefit of being able to see what is not visible to the one who has not been in that space, and thereby be in a position to guide choosing the right path, up front or even be forewarned. The term mentoring was coined in the recent past in the context of the felt need to fill the gap between education and emloyment / work life. However the process / the act of mentoring existed even centuries ago, particularly in the joint family system in traditional India (the eastern world). Japan and China are classic examples that follow management models (life time / long term employment) different from that of the west and mentoring is an inherent part of the system. 3
  4. 4. It started in the family, in particular the joint family system where all members of the joint family cutting across three to four generations lived and worked together. One could visualise a family comprising persons from age near about a century to as low as a couple of months. In such a scenario, every individual of any age had the opportunity to experience what people of a different age group, role and sex, go through without being directly affected by it. This is very close to a hands-on training and experiential learning. The experience drawn from proximity and exposure, had the effect of informal transfer of knowledge (we call it case study today, drawn from distant situatiions that we cannot even visualise, that has no emotion and so becomes a mechanical ritual!). No experiential learning can happen without an emotional involvement. The emotional support from seniors could happen seamlessly (no axe to grind, any misdemeanour by a truant would be handled effectively by those higher in the hierarchy, the junior had the comfort and obligation to learn. Intra family hiererachy was clearly known and accepted, though no written rules were laid down, right value systems were instilled in youngsters, by the sheer presence on the scene of the elders, age and knowledge were respected not necessarily earnings. The mentoring happened without going to town about it, no launching, no kick off, monitoring, closure, certifications, and any celebrations. A quiet effective, long lasting sustainable, deeply ingrained and internalised affair. The roots are deep enough to hold the tree system against even a hurricane. It in short develops unassailable character in the individual that is conspicuously lacking in the modern age. What has happened in the recent past? The nuclear family, youngsters breaking out of the parents and elders, DINKS (double income no kids) families, external affluence by media and society euologising superficial sense of success, no felt obligations to society, no control, not felt answerable, late child bearing, no felt need for any guidance on parenting, as the young couple believe they don’t need it, as this is a new generation not exposed to by the elders and hence no expected value addition, seen more as a hindrance and infringement on personal freedom and intruding into one’s own space. The transition from DINKS to DIO(one)K family set the tone for the problems to emerge. The young parents have no time, are affluent and can hence engage external help for the only child’s care, the relationship between the parents and the child become one of a ritualistic formal official party relatonship, with all the visible gadgets thrown in for display of (misplaced) affluence and well being, the child begins to live in a make believe world created by the parents 4
  5. 5. in thier own cocoon, totally cut off from the rest of the world, limited opportunity for free expession and experience (one has to go by the rules of the house, otherwise it is considered inappropriate behaviour), the child grows up believing the small world ceated for it to be the whole world and aligns with it, over-protected from the harsh realities of real life by the affluent parents, the child becomes a stranger within its own home land when having to deal with the real heterogeneous environs, picks up habits appropriate to its parents affluence and value systems. In the next phase, the child attains maturity, enters the professional institution in a competitve world (gets through the competition through rot external tutoring the parents can afford), gets suddenly exposed to the unprotected and non structured ways of the real world during / post graduation, disappointments set in, unable to deliver to the expectations of parents, and the significant others, frustration develops followed by consequences that manifest in suicides, withdrawal, mental cases, terrorism,… and then (may be some) get into employment, and is now exposed to the formal mentoring, as the protection long longer exist. Are we not responsible for this state of affairs, where we refuse to learn from within our own system, adopt and adapt to alien practices as they are fashionable. Is it not time to mentor the parenting process and not their offsprings, so that we can have a deep rooted and sustainable productive society in the future? I believe mentoring should start with the parents right from the time their first child is born, targeting them even while they are in the organisation, so that we help and mould future societies. CSR could be a viable route through which large and responsible organisations can add considerable long term value and help in societal transformation 5