This is a repost of an article originally published by PhocusWire, July 2021.
The events of the past year have impacted relationships across all facets of our lives as we navigated new challenges personally and professionally, and for those of us working in the travel industry, the impact and uncertainties unique to our industry were that much more personal.
As a mentor during a global pandemic, I knew the importance of being flexible and empathetic as the world and situations evolve. Discussions with mentees last year focused on how best to adapt and adjust to a new virtual working world, helping to create some structure amidst the chaos, and getting used to the constant blurring of home and work.
Now, we are facing more change and challenges as many return to the office, travel and more. While positive for many—and for our industry overall —these changes can also bring anxiety and uncertainty. That is why I always keep in mind the core tenets of a mentor, to ensure I put the person first and create a safe space.
Core tenets of a mentor
The way that we mentored certainly played out differently over the past year, however, the fundamental approach and core structure has held true. The core principles that make up my relationships with mentees include:
At the beginning of any relationship, it’s critical to listen to the mentee to understand what they are looking for out of the relationship. To do this, ask a lot of questions, both personally and professionally, and then summarize what you heard to ensure you’re both on the same page in understanding what they want.
Mentees seek advice and guidance on how to work through a challenge or an issue. While it may be easy to just give them the solutions, offer guidance and constructive criticism, though also empower them to make the decision and find a resolution.
Mentors should also be open to receiving feedback, so it’s important to remain humble. In my relationships, I share personal experiences that helped me learn—usually infused with humor—to show I’m human too.
Taking a balanced approach of both personal and professional can help move the focus solely from traditional business and career topics to more personal conversations. As many people were struggling to avoid burnout over the last year, this approach was especially important, and also effective. Being open and honest about how you’re feeling as a mentor makes you more relatable and approachable, building further trust within the relationship.
Mentors should be open to receiving feedback.”MONYA MANDICH, vice president, GLOBAL Marketing, Expedia Group MEDIA SOLUTIONS
Creating a safe space
While creating a safe space for your mentee is always critical for the relationship, the impacts extending beyond the pandemic to other critical social and political conversations and events that were unfolding, and continue to, across the U.S., further emphasized this need.
Travel has the power to open minds and drive better understanding between people of different cultures and identities, and we can apply that same thinking to our personal and professional relationships, helping strengthen connections and bridge divides.
For me, as a mentor, I commit to sharing what I learn—whether from personal experiences, news articles or other available learning resources—while also expressing to my mentees that I want to hear from them as well. Whether or not my personal feelings or content shared will also ring true for them, it creates an opportunity to be exposed to a different point of view that could help them in their own leadership approach.
We are all works-in-progress and showing who you are as a person, in all facets of your life, is one of the best things you can do for a mentee – regardless of what we’re experiencing in today’s climate. Today we’re having more practical conversations about business and personal goals now we’re further down the path of recovery, though we should still carry over the empathy and lessons we learned during the pandemic to continue fostering deeper mentor/mentee relationships.
To find out more about how companies in the travel space are applying a similarly empathetic, inclusive approach towards their audiences, check out this post on inclusion and diversity.