When owners of independent advisory firms ask me to help them set up “mentoring” programs for their new professional employees, I always try to talk them out of it. Here’s why.
The basic problem with “mentoring “ programs in advisory firms is that they send the wrong message.
Think about the dynamic of mentoring: A wise and experienced older person takes a younger and much less knowledgeable younger person under their wing to impart their wisdom.
While mentoring can be very helpful to younger people, it is not a professional relationship.
When you bring new advisors into your firm, they may be quite a bit younger than you and your other senior advisors, but typically they have a professional degree and often some experience. They are like resident physicians at a hospital — full-fledged doctors who just don’t have as much experience as senior staff.
Consequently, when you hire a new advisor and then start treating them as if they just graduated from school, you run a very real risk of offending them. Obviously, this isn’t going to help your relationship, and at a time when there’s a talent shortage in the industry, it’s generally not a wise move.
What’s more, starting a professional relationship off on the wrong foot can get in the way of the learning process, which isn’t to say that young advisors don’t have a lot to learn; they do, and they usually know it.
Still, these are adults, not children. And they understandably want to be treated accordingly — with some degree of equality, and a measure of respect.
To build positive, productive relationships with your professional employees, keep in mind that a significant part of your job at the firm is to build up your employees rather than tear them down.