President's Message: Those Who Can, Become Mentors

FAA News,
By Shawn Wingate

Richman Property Services Inc.

During Module I of the 2017 FAA Leadership Lyceum program, one of the students shared a favorite proverb: When you row someone else across the river you get there yourself. It got me thinking about how both people benefit from a mentoring relationship and about some of the lessons I’ve gained from my experiences.

I’ve had informal mentors who encouraged me to become more involved in my local apartment association, and then FAA and the National Apartment Association. When I attended NAA’s Leadership Lyceum, a mentor was formally assigned to show me around.

Now, I am a mentor to one of my former employees, who started out as a leasing consultant and worked her way up to property manager. Even though she no longer works for me, I decided to take her under my wing.

Here are some things I have learned from being on both sides of the mentor relationship:

  • Honesty comes first. Be truthful with yourself about whether or not you have time to be a mentor. You will be doing a disservice to your mentee if you agree to dedicate the necessary time when in reality your schedule doesn’t allow it.
  • Communication is key. Stay in touch with your mentee and what’s happening in his or her professional life so that you can give good advice. You can’t be a good teacher if you don’t listen to your student.
  • Be knowledgeable. Make sure you know what you need to in order to be a successful mentor. If you don’t know anything about the field, you will be of no help to your mentee and could end up being a detriment to their success.
  • Stay goal-oriented. Ask about your mentee’s goals so that you are always mindful of them when giving advice and teaching lessons.
  • Use the buddy system. Bring your mentee with you to meetings and business events. It’s a part of your job to introduce them to the right people.
  • Different is okay. Your mentee might not want to follow the same path as you, but your knowledge is still valuable. Teach your mentee the dos and don’ts you have learned along the way.
  • A clean slate is a good slate. If your mentee has little to no experience in the field, that is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it could make them more open-minded to what you are sharing and teaching.

Being a mentor has definitely been a rewarding experience. It has taught me to value myself as a teacher, and that we don’t have to all follow the same path to support each other along the way.