Recently I got a voicemail from an old employee. I was caught off guard because, without being specific, he proceeded to thank me repeatedly. This was someone that had worked for me and I had mentored for 2 years. Although I was happy to help, I more so wanted to know what I had done right. When I returned his call he told me that he was thanking me for investing in him. He said that at his new job he was getting a lot of positive feedback on his performance and he knew it was due to the time he spent at my store. He said that he felt equipped for his new role only because of how he had grown in his old position.

This call made my day! Why? Because mentoring someone is hard work. Because when you’re in the thick of it, you HOPE it will pay off but you don’t know. And because sometimes your hardest workers are your most stubborn learners. It’s true!

Here are 2 secrets of mentorship that I’ve learned:


  1. It WILL be difficult sometimes. You will question if you are leading them in the right way. You will wonder if you are really helping them grow. They will require your time, which often times feels limited at best. You will be hard on them and wonder if they know that you are pushing them to be their best. If you are their boss as well, you may struggle with helping them to grow while still demanding the best for your business.
  2. It WILL be worth it. You will grow in your own knowledge of why you handle things as you do. You will look back on the difficult times with a smile, because the difficulty produced growth. You will see them grow in their own strength, confidence, and work ethic. You will learn from them and their own unique abilities and the way they view the world. Simply put, you will both grow from your time spent working together.


At some point, you will probably part ways just as this employee did when he moved across the country. However, the time you’ve invested in that person, the work they’ve done on their own, and the things they teach you along the way are never lost but simply reinvested at a new location. And just every now and then if you get a phone call like the one I did, you will know that mentorship doesn’t just work, it rocks!

Have you ever been mentored before? What is one thing you learned? If you’re mentoring someone now, what is one thing you hope they learn from you? If you could choose from any leader, who would you choose as your dream mentor?

Andrea Lehmkuhler