Mentoring and Resilience

28 Jan 2022
Mentoring and Resilience

January 2022 marked the 20th year of celebrating National Mentoring Month in the US. Mentoring is an important topic for L&D (and one of my personal favorites); however, I spent the first month of the year thinking that I really wanted to discuss resiliency.  Many of our clients tell us about how stretched their learners are, and how they are dealing with unprecedented turnover, lapsed motivation, and burnout The post-COVID-19 world continues to run everyone ragged, with ever-changing guidelines and the level of uncertainty reaching new and unprecedented heights.

Therefore, I thought I would talk about how we can help our learners (and ourselves) find and harness our resiliency. However, when I was putting together my outline for this, I realized that you cannot have one without the other. In this environment, I cannot discuss mentoring without talking about resiliency and I cannot discuss resiliency without talking about how important it is to connect with others meaningfully.

I believe we can all agree on the significance of mentoring in the L&D space. By 2020, 71% of Fortune 500 companies had a formal mentoring process in place. Mentors are regarded as valuable by 97% of people who have one.(1) Having a mentor is said to be one of the most beneficial things you can do for your career and personal development, and 89% of those who have had a mentor have in turn become mentors to others.(2) We know that formal learning accounts for only a fraction of how employees learn in their roles. The majority of what someone learns comes either from peers and mentors or from on-the-job learning. To summarize, mentoring programs are highly effective at creating connection and value for everyone involved.

Resiliency, on the other hand, is a newcomer to the list of overused corporate buzzwords. It has been thrown around very often lately, and for good reason. Everyone has been put through the wringer, and when each day brings a vague sense of dread about the news, we need to be able to bounce back and harness our strength to continue to just get through the day, let alone increase our productivity and create positive business outcomes.

There are many different types of resiliency training, but some core components remain the same. A good resiliency training program includes the following topics:

  • What is resiliency and how is it different from mental toughness?
  • What are the factors that make someone resilient?
  • What are some practical tips and exercises to improve my resiliency?

What is resiliency? How is it different from mental toughness?

The definitions differ, but most researchers agree that resiliency is a process rather than a trait. A simplified definition could be “advancing despite adversity”.(3) Resiliency is to progress and to continue to be goal-oriented and forward-focused despite obstacles. It’s the ability to adapt and overcome.  It is important thing to note is that all these definitions are action-oriented.

What are the factors that make someone resilient?

There are several, but here are a few:(4)

  • Being able to find, focus, and direct your attention
  • Emotional regulation and awareness
  • Ability to tolerate ambiguity
  • Realistic optimism
  • Compassion and empathy
  • Understanding our sphere of influence
  • Positive social connections

What are some practical tips and exercises to improve my resiliency?

There is a wealth of useful information available online about things we can do to become more resilient. The American Psychological Association (APA) offers advice based on 4 core components of resiliency.

4 Core Components of Resiliency

Mentoring and Resilience

Source: American Psychological Association.

It is clear that connection to others is a key pillar of being resilient. Mentoring and connecting with a peer allow both the mentor and the mentee to discuss goals and ways to achieve them. It requires us to discuss problems and figure out how to solve them together. This allows both parties to look to the future with optimism, solve problems, and adapt to the current environment. By being there for someone as a mentor, you are helping them in developing resiliency. That act alone strengthens your resiliency.

Louder for those in the back: having a mentor-mentee relationship not only allows both parties to grow professionally, but also it is a key component of fostering resiliency. It happens organically.

That is not to say that a mentoring program can replace a good resiliency training program; however, I would argue that it is a positive step toward helping your organization build a resilient workforce and combat the effects of the current environment. 

As part of a good resiliency training program, look for resources to foster conversations in these settings that will help pull through the daily practice of being resilient. It is a skill, and like any other skill, it gets better with practice.  

References

  1. Cronin N. Mentoring Statistics: the research you need to know. Guider. February 3, 2020. Accessed January 28, 2022. https://www.guider-ai.com/blog/mentoring-statistics-the-research-you-need-to-know
  2. Mentoring statistics in 2022: everything you need to know. PUSHfar. Accessed January 28, 2022. https://www.pushfar.com/article/mentoring-statistics-everything-you-need-to-know/
  3. Jurie. What Is Resilience? Modernising The Definition of Resilience. Driven. January 1, 2018. Accessed January 28, 2022. https://home.hellodriven.com/articles/what-is-resilience-modernising-the-definition-of-resilience/
  4. Moore C. Resilience training: how to master mental toughness and thrive. PositivePsychology. Accessed January 28, 2022. https://positivepsychology.com/resilience-training/
  5. Building your resilience. American Psychological Association. January 1, 2012. Updated February 1, 2020. Accessed January 28, 2022. https://www.apa.org/topics/resilience