In the Know: Mentoring the next generation of workers

March 9, 2016 By    
Photo: Debenport

Photo: Debenport

In the Know is a monthly partnership between LP Gas magazine and Propane Resources. Our focus this month is on employees, addressed by financial consultant Tamera Kovacs.

Q: How can propane retailers serve as mentors for the next generation of working professionals?

A: I was 15 when I got my first job working for someone who wasn’t family. My dad told me he was worried about me working for John. His fear – John might be the best boss I would ever have. And I will say, so far, he’s right. I learned a great deal from John, but I wouldn’t necessarily describe him as a mentor. The person whom I would consider as my second-best boss (a very close second) was my greatest mentor.

The key to great mentoring is based on relationships, and those relationships are forged between individuals, not assigned. There are many factors to consider, such as communication styles, personality and respect.

For propane retailers to become mentors for future generations of working professionals, it is critical to build a work environment that promotes mentoring relationships. The owners and top management must understand the importance of mentor programs and participate, starting first by creating the culture and opportunity. Keep in mind that mentors may come from within the organization or outside the organization.

Mentors often seek successors. They actionize the statement, “If I knew 10 years ago what I do now …” and share that wisdom and experience to encourage and support the mentee to explore new ideas and opportunities.

Becoming a mentor is more than joining an organization or getting a certificate; it’s the relationship that’s critical, and it should not be confused with friendship. It is important to find mutual respect. A mentee may not always like the mentor, but respect is critical. The relationship should be about sharing experiences, knowledge, passions, skills, histories and providing the mentee with the tools to grow, make decisions, make mistakes, occasionally fail but hopefully succeed. It is not uncommon to have more than one mentor at a time, and the longevity of a mentoring relationship will vary. They may last for a few weeks to a lifetime.

The beauty of mentorships: There is no rulebook. No two mentorships will be the same in any organization. The important thing to remember is to promote an environment where people want to help and challenge others. It all comes down to the people and the opportunity. Encourage employees who have the same intent, spirit and passion for a goal or objective to work together. Create the environment, provide the support and encourage the development of those working for and with you.

In strong mentoring relationships, the mentor may, in some circumstances, become the mentee. The greatest form of flattery is when a mentee becomes a mentor.


Tamera Kovacs is a financial consultant and industry expert in business valuations and sales with Propane Resources. She can be reached at or call her at 913-262-0196.

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