April 19, 2017  
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Mentors Can Make A Difference

Got relationship goals? A new ‘Mentor Match’ program for the pulp, paper, and related industries can help.

Building leadership skills, gaining process knowledge, and collecting sage advice are all benefits associated with having a mentor. Mentors can also help their mentees gain that almost intangible “feel for the industry” that can lead to higher job success and satisfaction. According to a recent article by Forbes.com contributor Kaytie Zimmerman, “among millennials, there is a collective shout to employers to develop them, mentor them, and give them opportunities to lead. Companies that offer their youngest employees the ability to grow within their organization are more likely to hang on to them or prevent job-hopping.”

In his article “The Greying of the Paper Industry” (forthcoming in the May/June issue of Paper360°), industry veteran John Neun says that a mentoring culture has served our industry well for decades. “Papermaking technologies are evolved and not merely developed,” he writes. “Good papermaking is thus a mix of technology and ‘black magic’—that is, knowledge of a very complex system gained by experience and observation; knowledge handed down through generations of workers.”

Now, a new community being created through TAPPI Connect seeks to expand the mentoring opportunities in our industries for both potential mentors and potential mentees. Called Mentor Match, the program will unite Mentors and Protégés to share resources and experiences, while working together to achieve professional and personal goals. The enrollment window is now open for both Mentors and Protégés (see dates below.)

Making a Mentor Match
Can people really forge lasting relationships online? Try asking the five percent of US couples in a married or committed relationship who met through an online matching service. That figure comes from the Pew Research Center, which also found that, for those who have been with their spouse or partner for five years or less, as many as 12 percent met their “significant other” with the help of online matching.

TAPPI Connect’s Mentor Match builds on that successful formula by having both parties fill out detailed profiles in order to find the best matches; it takes only a few minutes to complete the online application form. At the start of a mentor match, participants will join a kick off call and then additional meetings will take place at set intervals to assure regular communication. Using the online application, Protégés will complete a form upfront to use as a way to focus the mentorship period. TAPPI will recommend that mentors and protégés spend one hour connecting each month.

Mentor Match will be open to any current TAPPI member. Both Mentors and Protégés must apply, and are then matched-up to work together according to their needs, interests and talents. The mentoring will take place over the course of six months and can be extended to meet each team’s needs.

The online system means that matches don’t need to be local. Members from across the globe can easily communicate by whatever method works best for them: through TAPPI Connect, phone, Skype, or email.

Mentors and protégés have designated windows to sign-up and be matched. The first sign-up for Mentors began April 3rd, and will continue through April 26th. Protégé sign-up will take place April 23rd through May 10th.

During the application process, Protégés can view the Mentors available and reach out via email (outside the system) to find out if there is a mutual interest. TAPPI staff will work to accommodate everyone; they suggest that Mentors have no more than 3 Protégés at a time to avoid work overload.

“Mentor Match will offer the flexibility and creativity for better professional development,” says TAPPI. The new program is part of a variety of efforts the association makes to support workforce development and knowledge sharing in the pulp, paper, and related industries.

And while the benefits of being mentored are often acknowledged, it is important to remember that mentors themselves stand to gain, according to leading career website Monster.com. In their recent article “Being a good mentor can benefit your (yes, your) career,” author Caroline Zaayer Kaufman notes that serving as a mentor may help an experienced professional bolster their reputation, support their company’s success, and boost their own job performance. “A terrific way to learn and think critically about something is by teaching it to someone else. By observing your mentee’s professional development and taking note of their successes and misfires, you can tweak and improve your own leadership and management practices,” writes Kaufman.

To learn more about the Mentor Match program, visit http://connect.tappi.org/mentoring.

 

For a modest investment of $174, receive more than US$ 1000 in benefits in return.
Visit www.tappi.org/join for more details.