The Importance of Having a Mentor


Everyone Needs a Mentor

The other day – well they all seem like other days now don’t they – the other day I was having a conversation with one of my colleagues in the public sector. They were telling me all the changes they were going through because of COVID-19. For example, they run a solid waste operation with well over 100 employees and several different facilities managing solid waste, recyclables, and special waste. They were lamenting that they were losing key managers, through attrition and/or layoffs, that they had worked with for more than a decade. So not only were they losing key talent, but they also were losing key advisors and even more importantly: work friends. I asked if they were going to replace the managers, but the Board of Directors had decided to forgo those positions. 

Their story did not end there as they had to inform the employees that salaries were going to be adjusted, and although that impacted my colleague’s personal financial picture significantly, they were very concerned with the families to be impacted by these changes.

It Can Be Lonely at the Top

Your decisions impact not only your employees but also the families who are depending on the employee for financial income and support. With these uncertain times, there are more layers included with leadership which includes the impact of your employees’ health to the financial viability of the business or organization. Leaders must make decisions that bring employees back to the office or continue to work from home. What about those benefits that cost a fortune? Do we continue each employee’s benefits, or do we require the employee to contribute more?


Why a Mentor?

Everyone needs a sounding board, a good listener, a colleague who will tell you that your plan to zig should really be a zag. It is called a mentor. They will tell you the truth even when you really do not want to hear it. They can pump you up when you are down. Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night panicked about a decision to be made or the state of your business? A mentor can help you work through those issues to hopefully avoid many sleepless nights. 

I have mentored leaders in business and government, and the benefits can be enormous. Young professionals are so much fun to mentor as you get to help them lay out a career path, and the paths to success are so varied. For the lonely leaders at the top, you need a mentor. Everyone should have one. If you do not have one, get one. You will be glad in these uncertain times to have that listener, advisor, and someone that is not emotionally attached to your issues.

How do I find a professional mentor?

  • Check your professional association. Join it! Network.
  • There are many private sector “business clubs” that provide advice to business leaders in a group setting.
  • Start a group of mentors. GT is in the process of planning a group for solid waste transfer station operators. The goal will be to talk about work issues, financial issues, equipment issues, and personnel issues among other transfer station professionals.
  • Call or email me; we can work out a mentor plan to determine what makes the best sense for your business or government department.

For more information, contact Michael Greenberg
President, GT Environmental at mgreenberg@gtenvironmental.com