Celebrating Mentorship in Manufacturing

mentors teaching in a classroomDid you know that January is National Mentoring Month?

The designation was created back in 2002 by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, and since then has actively worked to focus national attention on the need for mentors.

From raising awareness of mentoring in its various forms, recruiting individuals to mentor, and promoting the growth of mentoring by recruiting organizations to engage in the partnerships, NMM has had participants like Maya Angelou, Bill Clinton, and Clint Eastwood.

Wait: What is mentorship, anyway? The relationship can take many forms, but the dictionary defines a mentor as “a wise and trusted counselor or teacher,” or “an influential senior sponsor or supporter.” In other words, someone older (although they don’t have to be) or more experienced in a given field that can provide you with advice, support, and encouragement throughout your journey.

Jennifer Sheehy, Deputy, Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, explains “Research confirms that quality mentoring relationships have powerful positive effects on young people in a variety of personal, academic, and professional situations. By preparing young people for college and careers, mentoring also helps develop the future workplace talent pipeline.”

Mentorship can certainly apply to the educational sphere, but it is also important in manufacturing on the plant floor itself. However, many manufacturing companies are unlikely to have a structured mentorship program. This can deter workers who are unsure how to go about finding and working with a mentor. Carl and Bryan, the leaders at OPF Enterprises, offer this advice for finding a mentor in the manufacturing world:

  1. Choose the right mentor: A mentor should possess the temperament to help people and the willingness to do so, a rare combination. He’ll be the guy who will listen to all opinions until it’s time to make a decision and is likely to be one of the guys to spend significant time on the plant floor.
  2. They say to “find this guy and tell him you need his advice on how to lead people and improve production performance and do a good job…he will know better than you that asking for his help does not show your weakness, but that you understand there is no substitute for experience.”

Industry News even claims that good mentorship programs could potentially bridge the talent gap. Since manufacturing has evolved to be highly technological, mentorships can help connect young people with high-tech manufacturing environments without the dreaded intimidation factor.

If you’re a manufacturer or are interested in being mentored, we encourage you to read more about it on the National Manufacturing Month website; you can also check out some of the other manufacturing mentorship success stories here. Either way, it’s certainly a month worth celebrating!

photo credit: Design Jam Iasi #1 via photopin (license)