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The buddy system (creating a strong mentorship program)

Updated: Feb 17

Two dogs looking up - partners in crime.
Is there any better mentor than a dog? (photo credit

Chances are, at some point during your existence, you have been assigned a "buddy" and maybe even been one yourself. It's usually associated with starting out new somewhere - school, work, maybe even during an outdoor adventure. The buddy's responsibility is largely around "showing the ropes" on where things are, how to get things done and who does what. However, creating a strong mentorship program is a real commitment that can drive serious connections and satisfaction, whether at work, school, or even for two BFFs who happen to walk on all fours.

Walk this way.

One of our main goals at VitalConex when working with clients is to pierce the veil of always-on ‘performing’ at work and make a more relaxed, authentic sense of psychological safety the new workplace norm. A commitment to a mentor/mentee relationship is an excellent microcosm to set the stage. It's a great step toward the walk toward a new type of dynamic that will move teams toward a more "ensemble" approach.

Reverse mortgage? Not so fast! Reverse mentor? Full speed ahead.

Learning doesn't just go one way. In a reverse mentoring arrangement, colleagues partner up, regardless of age or seniority, to learn from each other. This type of buddy system benefits all. The individual benefits by upskilling in leadership, technology, or a specific business competency. The team and company benefit from tighter bonds formed among their employees.

The peanut butter cup of psychological safety.

Just as psychological safety and creativity merge to be the "peanut butter" cup of more successful teams (better together), so is the case with the mentor/mentee relationship as it relates to psychological safety. This special relationship assumes no hierarchy, and, as such, invites and encourages a letting down of one’s guard in a safe way. The encounters will only be as effective as they are honest. Psychological safety enables this to do just that.

We're going for that right-brain thinking again!

When the mentor takes the lead responsibility of exhibiting the qualities of presence that make the mentee open to sharing, it’s incredibly beneficial to the mentee. However, when the mentor is also open to learning from the mentee and not over-invested in the “expert” role, additional magic can really happen. Both of these can only happen when we engage that right brain. (But how you ask - we'd love to share more!)

Sharing is caring.

Being a part of a solid mentor/mentee partnership is great but spreading the "love" is even better. This type of buddy system can directly impact the vital connections among team members in profound ways. When a team member is supported in their mentor/mentee relationship, that team member is poised to bring back the insights and learnings to the good of the team cause.

The VITAL5 ROUNDUP– the Buddy System.

1. Walk this way – take the first step and get yourself a solid mentor/mentee partnership and you'll quickly feel why psychological safety is so important.

2. Rethink & Reverse – rethink mentoring and think "reverse" to go forward - especially if you are a more seasoned worker.

3. Yum...peanut butter cups not just sweet but the result of an excellent partnership - why not insist on the same for your mentoring?

4. Right away! – one on one will help get to free up right-brain thinking and mentoring partnerships are a great way to get there directly.

5. Be a superspreader – of psychological safety and creativity, that is. Use your mentoring partnership to connect with your team and the organization.

VitalConex is a connect-and-create company. To learn more about the "peanut butter cup" of successful teams, check us out at

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