By Kristina McCoobery, Chief Operating Officer, INVNT
The desire to continuously improve is ingrained in many people, and in my experience, this is especially the case when it comes to event industry professionals. We’re a driven, motivated group. We’re incredibly passionate about what we do, and we strive to produce the very best for our clients day in, day out. In fact, at INVNT we have a saying that goes like this: “Yesterday’s wow is tomorrow’s so what? So what will we challenge today?” We hire people who fit that bill, who even after their best day at work, ask: “What do I need to do to be better?”
Mentoring is an effective way to ensure our teams are constantly learning and inspired, and below are five tactics we live by.
Share your stories
It’s important to get your team members, especially those who have just entered the workforce, doing real work – we learn by observation; however, context is also important. Rather than take the text book approach and recall a generic ‘what if’ situation, share your own anecdotal experiences with your mentees. Hone in on the specific, real-life challenges you’ve faced over the years, and share the strategies you implemented to overcome them. These real-life reflections will be more relatable, and they’ll allow your team to visualize how they might apply your strategies if they were to find themselves in similar situations.
Look beyond the boardroom
While a career mentor is important, encourage your mentees to explore other avenues, too – and remind them that they don’t need to have just the one. A mentor could be someone who inspires the employee outside of work, in the way they effectively balance their multiple responsibilities, or it could be their personality attributes and ability to remain cool, calm and collected during moments of high stress that might prove valuable.
I’ve been lucky enough to have three mentors in my life. There’s my mother Eva Swedlund, a dear friend and my daughter’s godmother, Carolyn Buck Luce, Managing Partner at Imaginal Labs; and Michele DiNello, Senior Director Communications at Subway, who has been one of our clients for nearly 20 years. I’ve learned very different, equally valuable career and life skills from each of these inspiring women, two of whom were not directly involved in my work or career.
Read, read, read… And listen
We’re lucky to live in an information age – we’ve got so much knowledge at our fingertips – so I encourage mentees to seek out books and podcasts that are written or recorded by successful marketing professionals and entrepreneurs. These resources allow us to take a break from the day-to-day of ‘working in the business’ as we step back and gain some more ‘working on the business’ inspiration. For example, I’ve read Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility by Patty McCord of Netflix twice now, and each time I’ve taken fresh new learnings away which I’ve been able to apply to how we do things at INVNT.
Give reverse mentorship a try
We all excel in different areas, and it’s infinitely possible to learn just as much from a mentee as they can learn from you. No matter how successful we might be, there’s always room to learn some more. Want to increase your social media savviness? Take a Gen Z out to lunch and get them to share their tips on photographing and hash-tagging an experience so that it generates more engagement on social media – it could even get your post trending!
Foster, and communicate, an open-door policy
We value the thoughts and opinions of each and every one of our INVNTrs, and we avoid the traditional ‘top down’ management structure. Our open plan office layout and my figurative corner office (I don’t have one – no one on our entire team, across all eight offices does!) is always open. Importantly, having an open-door policy is one thing, reminding your team that you advocate for this approach is another. Encourage them to seek you out for insight and advice, and remind them that while a mentoring relationship can definitely happen organically, sometimes they need to ask the question directly.
To conclude, mentoring is a must because it equips our teams with the tools they need to not only be better each day, it upholds the reputation of our industry in the long-term. It has the potential to inspire our team members to constantly strive for better, to get up every day and focus on doing something extraordinary… And that’s the very foundation of our industry.