The Right Stuff: What it Takes to be a Mentor
Back in 2018, ARA launched the Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Program. RD Hopper was the founder of this program. His vision was to bring together some of the best operators to act as mentors to those that were in need of help. The object here was to mentor those that were new to the industry, some that may be struggling, and lastly, some that simply wanted to improve. The main objective here was to improve our industry one recycler at a time, with the main goal that as we make our industry better as a whole and we all do a better job, the benefits will be greater opportunities, and hopefully we will erase the negative stigma of the “junkyard” image that our industry suffers.
We are also now looking to scale this into an international program, and we are looking for additional recyclers to be mentors. For those that are interested in becoming a mentor, you have to know and understand this: this is a serious program and this can have a positive or a negative impact on those looking for help. With this being said, this is a serious commitment. Everyone involved will have to hold up their end for this to succeed. The bottom line is this: it will require hard work and an honest effort from all involved. If you are not willing to invest the time and work required, this program is not for you, but if you are, this program will most definitely be a benefit to you, and also to those you are helping.
One of the great things about our industry and what sets it apart from others, is that even though we are competitors, we are always willing to share ideas and help one another. For those that are applying as mentors, obviously we are looking for the best. Usually, when someone is a good operator, they are also very busy with their own business. There will be sacrifices of their time, work, and money to help others.
This will require numerous phone calls with your mentee, as well as being able to do an evaluation on their business to understand their strengths and weaknesses, and to develop a plan of action. Obviously, there will be different methods, all depending on the needs of who you are mentoring. The focus will be on the three P’s, people, process, and product. You will also need to find out what their goals are, short-term (within the next year), and long-term (their 5-year plan). You may have to help them set realistic expectations, as well as monitor their progress to keep them focused and on-track with the task at hand. Hopefully when travel restrictions ease, we can continue with site visits, but at the very least, you will have to be readily available for any questions or concerns that your mentee may have.
A good mentor will have to be a coach, a psychologist, and at times a drill sergeant, but aren’t these all qualities we already have from managing our businesses and our people? You need to know when to teach, when to get tough, and when to be understanding and supportive.
On a personal note, I can say firsthand that I have learned as much from the people that I have mentored as they have learned from me. You will develop long-term, lasting relationships with these people, and you will have a sense of fulfillment knowing that you are giving back and helping others.
When this program was started, RD told me that if we could save just one recycler, this program will be a success. He also said:
“Seeing people willing to give their time and money to the ARA Mentoring Program; to selflessly invest in the future of other owners and this industry as a whole, has made me feel honored to be a part of ARA and this industry. This is a transitional time, and these mentors have shown me that those who are willing to adapt and improve their businesses will survive. I am grateful to those that have asked for help to improve, and for those volunteering to be mentors. They both have inspired me to do the same.”
I encourage anyone who feels that they have “The Right Stuff,” and those that are willing to be a mentor, to contact Jessica Andrews at the ARA office to get started.
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