Mentors play a critical role in employee success, engagement and job longevity. They invest time to integrate the employee into everyday operations, provide timely advice and keep them engaged. Some mentors elect to help new employees while others may be “volentold” (told to do it by a member of the leadership team). Great mentors know team dynamics, where the potential pitfalls are and strive to set the employee up for success. They know the strengths and weaknesses of each team member, including the boss.

My first mentor was Brad Rauguth.

We met when I started my internship at Allison Engine Company in Indianapolis, Indiana. I was working on my master’s degree from Georgia Tech. I jumped at the chance to shorten the journey while getting hands on experience.

Brad was an outgoing engineer. He was impressively knowledgeable and from the start, it was obvious he had earned everyone’s respect. During the plant tour, he introduced me to everyone we saw and pointed out everything that was going on. He heard I was coming and decided to mentor me. He was very interested in my project and wanted me to succeed.

I still remember his first impression of me.

After the tour was over, he took me aside and told me, “Your education proves you are smart. How wise you are will determine if your project succeeds or fails. Too many young guys like you have come through thinking they could change things and they failed miserably. I don’t want that to be you. You have a choice to make in getting along with us. I hope you make the right decision.” He would show me the path to success but I had to choose how I handled myself and how I would treat other people.

Sharing his vision.

Allison Engine Company is a union shop – growing up in Georgia, I was completely ignorant of Union-Salary politics. Our first day together, he introduced me to every person working both shifts. He gave every single one of them a compliment and let me know what duties they covered. I was impressed by how well respected he was. He shared with me later that I appeared to be a straight shooter and stressed how important it was to be that way.

Impact and a lasting contribution.

In the brief time, he gave me a simple roadmap to success. He made a lasting impact that still guides me today. I have had the honor of mentoring other people and I strive to have the same impact Brad made on me.