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Here’s How to Build a Quality Mentorship Culture at Your Company



Drawing on years of industry experience and the know-how involved in setting up his own company, Other NYC president Luis Moreno breaks down how to instill an effective mentorship culture which can inspire and define your organisation

Here’s How to Build a Quality Mentorship Culture at Your Company

I can pinpoint the moment my career really opened up. It’s easy.

There seems to be an old idea still floating around in our industry, and it’s one that says “if I don’t share how I approach my work, I will keep my job”. In other words, if you can stop other people from learning how you do what you do, you’ll retain your value. My own breakthrough moment came when I discovered that, in our industry, that is the exact opposite of the truth. We need to re-inforce with younger generations that there is an art to editing. 

Building up a culture based on shared information and open communication offers the best chance for success, both for the individual and an organisation. It’s also the best way to lay the groundwork for a quality and effective mentorship culture in your own business. In 2021, it’s hard to overstate the importance of mentorship - if you do it right, it adds value in attracting new potential talent, and it improves the work you produce. According to a study from IBM, over a third of employees cite ‘continuous learning opportunities’ as a basic requirement from an employer - and only 48% say their current employers meet their expectations in terms of skill development. 

But as well as self-interest, a great mentorship culture can be a means to its own end. As editors, what we do is a craft. Great creative crafts are great because their flame has been kept alive over a long period of time. Those who are working in this industry today are the current holders of that flame, and we do have a responsibility to care for it and pass it down. That may sound grandiose, but there’s truth to it - when you put that kind of value on the work you do, you’ll find your clients start to do the same.

So, there’s no doubt that it’s in your interests to pursue a strong culture of mentorship. At Other NYC, it’s been a part of our vision since our first day. Looking back, I can identify four key foundational pillars that have been instrumental in building that successful, quality mentorship culture. It’s never too late to put these pillars into place and, whilst my experiences are based on the world of editing and post production, doing so is achievable for any business. 

Don’t Bottle Up Your Craft - Teach It

As mentioned above, your skill is your craft - and any great craft is taught. When you are teaching a craft, however, you’re not looking to inspire copycats. You’re looking to hone the unique craft that resides within all of us. In editing, the point of passing along your craft is not to say ‘my aesthetic choices are better than yours, you need to learn from me’. It’s to pass on the expertise of how to leverage that craft to create great moments. It’s about creating a framework to make good, creative decisions regardless of the material you’re given. Our challenge as mentors - beyond the technical aspect - is to teach tasteful and artful decision-making. 

Once that framework is in place, you should always be confident that you and your colleagues aren’t stumbling into beautiful moments or great work by chance - it’s happening because you understand the process and you have a sense of direction. 

Be Welcoming To New Ideas And Passions

The first step to creating and defining your own style is caring about your work. As one of the more senior members of staff at Other NYC, one of the great joys about our mentorship culture for me personally is that the new styles and ideas of my colleagues force me to hold myself and my own style accountable. 

So let your staff know how much you care about the work. When people are younger, they can sometimes feel as though they’re not bringing anything to the table - but that’s not the case. They’re bringing in new energy, ideas, and perspectives which should be harnessed both to bring out their unique craft and inspire that of others. When you all care deeply about the work you create, this can come about naturally.

The Right Kind Of Confidence Is Key

One of the joys that comes with experience is confidence. That confidence is perhaps at its most useful when you’re using it to justify your aesthetic, creative, or directional choices on a project. You should justify your choices when they’re critiqued, but only when your basis for doing so comes from a place of expertise and qualified confidence that ensures, essentially, you know what you’re doing. It’s important that you help your people to arrive at this point by fostering expertise-based confidence across your team. Question their ideas, and encourage them to do the same to yours.

Confidence is also the path to preserving your own spirit in your work, which feeds into a number of these points. It’s essential to my business that I am different from my colleagues - we all strive for the same level of quality, but we never aim to be the same. Our differences strengthen each other. 

Finally, Be Honest About Your Priorities

Last of all, the hardest part. A strong culture of mentorship doesn’t come about by accident - it takes focus, effort, and dedication. Before setting out to create a culture of mentorship, be honest about whether you will apply the consistent dedication and love for your craft that’s required. 

When you commit to a culture of mentorship you commit to mentoring a whole person, not just their skills. That comes with a responsibility outside of the office, building meaningful relationships with people which eclipse a specific job function.

You’ll be tested. When the pandemic hit us, we had to have a conversation about how committed we were to keeping up the same level of mentorship despite the distance of remote working. We decided that we very much were, and we’ve adapted to make sure we’re delivering the same quality. 

But it’s not for everyone - some of us like to show up, do the work, and clock off. That’s fair enough. But for those of us who want to create a quality mentorship culture, the old adage about ‘getting out what you put in’ has never been more true. 

So if you’re ready to apply the effort, the rewards will provide an immense payoff. I know I wouldn’t be in the position I am today without people earlier in my career making the effort to reach out to me and tell me what I needed to hear. And now, it’s my turn to continue the cycle. By applying these rules, it can be yours, too. 

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Other NYC, Thu, 14 Oct 2021 09:20:52 GMT