CHICAGO — There are a variety of reasons to become a mentor for a less-experienced colleague. When asked what those reasons are, 71.4% of respondents to this month’s American Laundry News Your Views survey say it’s a combination of things:
“Helping others succeed helps the industry or my business”
“Personal satisfaction and enjoyment”
“Doing so can cut down on turnover”
“Helps ensure knowledge transfer for the next generation”
About one-fifth (18.6%) of respondents say the main reason for becoming a mentor is that “helping others succeed helps the industry or my business.” Smaller shares point to helping ensure that knowledge is transferred (7.1%), or gaining personal satisfaction and enjoyment (2.9%).
Roughly 86% of respondents report having had a laundry/linen industry mentor, while the remainder have not.
Roughly 73% say that the concept of mentorship is “highly important,” and another 22.9% deem it “somewhat important.” Slightly more than 4% believe mentorship is “neither important nor unimportant,” and no one taking the survey considers mentorship to be unimportant.
Respondents find mentors at a variety of places, including “through recommendations of industry colleagues” (40%), “in one’s place of employment” (35.7%), “at conferences or meetings” (11.4%), and “from within the family” (5.7%). The remaining 7.1% cited “other” ways, with one respondent saying, “Mentors can be found in numerous ways. Usually you just have to ask someone with knowledge whom you respect.”
According to the majority (80.3%) of respondents, the most valuable thing a mentor can provide is a mix of the following:
Thorough industry knowledge and background
Encouragement and guidance when problems arise
Specific solutions to business problems
Willingness to talk and listen
Some respondents specified that a mentor’s most valuable traits or assets are “thorough industry knowledge and background” (12.7%), “encouragement and guidance when problems arise” (4.2%), or specific “solutions to business problems” (2.8%).
“A mentor is not a problem solver or a fall-back safety net for issues that will inevitably arise,” says one respondent. “The base knowledge that a mentor can impart provides a worker or supervisor the tools he or she will need to deal with the issues efficiently and effectively. Without this knowledge, many people will panic and/or be unsuccessful in resolving issues at the onset. This empowering knowledge is most important in the case of a manager or floor supervisor, as they will set the tone and be looked to by everyone for direction and assurance.”
Another respondent advised, “Don’t over-think that relationship. That sort of thing should happen naturally. I never realized [who] my ‘mentor’ really was until after he passed away. I won’t ever realize who I may have mentored until long after they become successful.”
While the American Laundry News Your Views survey presents a snapshot of the trade audience’s viewpoints, it should not be considered scientific. Due to rounding, percentages may not add up to 100%.
Subscribers to American Laundry News e-mails are invited each month to participate in a brief industry survey they can complete anonymously. The entire trade audience is encourage to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define owner/operator opinions and industry trends.