If you’ve been in the professional work life for a while chances are you’ve attended a retirement party. Often, they’re like eulogies. We hear about contributions and achievements in the past tense. It feels as if a chapter has closed and a new one hasn’t been started.
What if someone could retire and leave a legacy? A contribution that isn’t a has-been, but something that is thriving and alive?
It happens. Recently, the team at OnStrategy was invited to Renee West’s retirement party. The name probably isn’t familiar. But to the people she touched she created a legacy.
Renee West is the former President and COO of Luxor and Excalibur Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nev. Her retirement wasn’t an event, but rather an emotional celebration of the inspiration she ignited as a leader.
How did she do it?
A staple of her legacy is her commitment to an organization-wide mentorship program. She presented to a packed house, not just of senior management, but also everyday staff working the floors. There were tears, hugs of gratitude, and reflection audience-wide that the quality of our professional lives is imperative and the experience of people matters.
Her message? Elevate the people and you’ll change the organization.
Here are just a few things we learned from Renee about adopting and sustaining a culture of change through an organization-wide mentorship program.
- Everyone can learn from someone
- Everyone can teach someone
- Everyone should be asking themselves whose professional life are they improving?
- Mentorship isn’t just for management teams. It embraces everyone, regardless of rank.
Since attending Renee’s retirement party we’ve thought a lot about the role of mentorship programs. We’re reminded daily that the need to find, recruit and keep talented individuals is heating up. Developing people has to be more than simply a formality. It must be an informal, yet conscious mind-set to grow and evolve.
Mentorship is about fostering a culture where people aren’t afraid to ask questions so they can grow personally and in their work life. It’s supporting a work environment where learning and the experience of learning is embraced. And we’ve found ourselves asking our own organization to adopt new approaches to ensure each individual has a role in mentoring the experiential learning of others.
Jeff: points well taken, obviously based on experience. In building software companies I found that giving professionals a goal that’s a level beyond their current capabilities and then backing them up only when needed leads to growth of all concerned.