ITL #368 Mentoring and coaching: nurturing the next generation2 years, 3 months ago
Young PR talent in Ghana needs more mentoring and coaching to reach its full potential. By Faith Senam Ocloo.
Today’s young professionals and students are tomorrow’s future leaders. As leaders, we owe it to ourselves, our organizations and our industry to help train the next generation of PR professionals who will take up the mantle and lead our profession in the future.
They need to be coached and mentored today for tomorrow’s good. Mentoring will allow them to learn and tap into the experience and resources of those who have been there, made mistakes and learnt from these lessons.
A mentor offers his or her knowledge, expertise and support to those with less experience by leveraging their skills and experience in guiding the mentee to excel and be better. A coach on the other hand focuses on specific skills and development goals by breaking them into specific tasks to be completed within a specified period of time.
Depending on which one may be relevant at a particular stage in a person’s career/life, these two approaches have become increasingly necessary today for both our personal and professional development. If done purposefully with clearly aligned objectives for both parties, it will not only develop the mentee into a well-rounded professional, but also positively impact companies they work for and the PR profession as a whole.
PR in Ghana
The Public Relations industry in Ghana is becoming vibrant and promising. It continues to attract more students who enroll in a degree programme with the aim of becoming PR professionals. But the road ahead is a tough one as many of them struggle to find their feet in this dynamic and ever-changing profession.
If one is fortunate to work for or understudy a great boss, then they may possibly pick up some lessons on how to navigate through their career in Public Relations and Communications. But if not so fortunate, they may have to find their way all by themselves. Many senior professionals we have today have had to traverse their PR career path all by themselves, with little or no formal mentorship or coaching.
My experience as a young graduate looking for some form of career guidance and advice fueled my desire to create a platform that will connect professionals at different levels and also bridge the gap between professionals and students. This inspired me in 2017 to launch Women in Public Relations Ghana, an organization geared towards empowering and mentoring the next generation of female PR practitioners and students.
Since founding Women in PR Ghana, I am more than confident that mentorship and coaching will be a great addition to our industry here. There have been instances where younger professionals and students have approached me and sent messages requesting that I mentor them. Some of them who are aware of its importance to their personal and professional development are not able to access potential mentors, and some do not even know how to go about approaching them.
I was privileged to seek counsel and direction from my former lecturer who I turned to in difficult moments when I had to make a decision relating to my career. Though it wasn’t a formal mentoring programme, he willingly opened his door to help and support when I needed.
Today, those sessions have played a significant role in shaping my professional life as well as my personal development. I am confident that the next generation of PR professionals with the right mentoring and coaching will exude confidence, professionalism and be well-versed to take to the global stage. Especially for PR women, this will be helpful in shaping and preparing them to take up leadership roles. Mentoring creates a lot of opportunities for the younger generation.
Helping new graduates
Our PR industry needs mentoring and coaching programmes to aid the increasing number of PR graduates we are churning out today. They need all the guidance and support to become integrated into the system and excel at their workplace.
Mentoring would play a significant role in creating opportunities that will guide them to make meaningful career choices. For this, they need to be able to access these senior professionals who are open to training and directing them. This transfer of knowledge from the coach or mentor to the individual will help in their positive development.
Mentoring is important, not only because of the knowledge and skills mentees can learn and acquire from their mentors, but also because it can help them discover their personal identity and acquire appropriate values and norms necessary for their personal development and building a reputable PR profession.
Research has it that people who experience good mentoring are more likely to perform creditably in their roles. Through such support, one is able to consider opportunities for career growth, gain confidence and improve interpersonal skills. The support is based on the mentor’s own experiences and learnings which is transferred onto the mentee.
Driving industry growth
For any industry to become recognized for its impact on society, it needs to serve a strategic purpose of retaining talent and accelerating leadership. Mentorship and coaching are proven as an important tool in achieving that purpose.
If we want to build our PR industry in Ghana, we need to be concerned about supporting the next generation of PR professionals.
It’s equally incumbent on students and young professionals to commit to being mentored. The opportunities mentoring and coaching offer are helpful in reaching a person’s full potential.
Faith Senam Ocloo is a fashion PR specialist, fashion writer and founder of e'april Public Relations. She is also the founder of Women in Public Relations Ghana.mail the author
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