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The Green Sheet Online Edition

August 25, 2008 • Issue 08:08:02


Burnish legacy with mentoring

It has been reported that payments industry professionals change jobs every 18 months, on average. And when jobs are vacated, individuals new to the industry often fill them - men and women who know nothing about the business. This constant influx of newbies cries out for mentors to teach them the ropes.

No oracles needed

A mentor is a guide. Think back to your high school or college days. If you were lucky enough to have a guidance counselor, he or she probably functioned as a mentor, offering information, suggestions, and further resources and contacts.

But mentors are not know-it-alls. We've all met people who think they know everything and are more than happy to show off at every opportunity. They like to impart their own brand of wisdom as to what to do, how to do it and when. Obviously, these folks are not the best candidates for mentoring.

On the other hand, there are many people (perhaps you) who think, "Who am I to be a mentor? I don't know everything. In fact, some days I think I know nothing."

But that very attitude is what mentoring is all about: honesty and humility. Most such people probably know more than they think they do. They might make ideal mentors, but they doubt their own abilities because they have unreal expectations of what a mentor is.

A mentor is not someone who has all the answers and a never-ending wellspring of time, patience and knowledge. No, a mentor is simply someone with valuable knowledge and experience who is willing to share both.


People hesitate to mentor because they fear the time commitment will be too great. But time constraints shouldn't stop you from mentoring.

If time is an issue, map out an arrangement prior to any mentoring relationships and have both parties agree to it. It can include a start and end date, specific days and times to meet, and rules as to which types of communication are acceptable. For example, are phone calls appropriate? If so, is a home or cell phone off limits? Is text messaging OK? If so, is there a time of day or night it is not acceptable?

Not good enough

Would-be mentors are also afraid they won't live up to their protégés' expectations. But self-doubt shouldn't discourage you. Most people are unsure of themselves in some respects. It's part of the human condition.

You may feel shaky in one area, such as mobile technology, but that doesn't mean you are not insightful about other aspects of the payments industry. If you have knowledge, share it. In most cases, people new to the business are appreciative of any help at all.

However, it can be beneficial to both parties to discuss expectations before mentoring begins. What do you want from the relationship? Set specific, realistic goals. For example, perhaps an apprentice hopes to create and present a solo sales pitch by the end of a three-month mentoring period.

What it takes

So, could you be a mentor? If you have it in you to provide the following, mentoring may be right for you:

  • Support and advice
  • Time and energy
  • Reinforcement when confidence is lacking
  • Introductions to industry contacts or access to professional networks
  • Guidance and encouragement
  • Constructive feedback

Under your wing

You may already be mentoring by default. Maybe your boss asked you to help out the rookie who just joined your company. Or maybe you took it on yourself to show him or her the basics of merchant acquiring. If so, you're already a mentor.

If not, perhaps you should give it a try. Mentoring is a great way to encourage newcomers and have a positive effect on the payments industry as a whole. And those whom you mentor will be forever grateful.

Now that's a legacy. end of article

The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.

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