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Global Mentorship Program – It Takes a Mentor!

One of the keys that the Spa and Wellness industry can use to meet its much documented challenge of developing and nurturing Spa Leaders are structured mentorship programs.


A year ago Thomas Friedman, New York Times columnist and author of the best-selling book “The World is Flat”, wrote a compelling article about the linkage between long-term success in the workplace and mentorship as evidenced in a large-scale Gallup survey of nearly 1 million college students. The survey found that graduates who had caring and encouraging mentors were “twice as likely to be engaged with their work and thriving in their overall well-being” as those who lacked this opportunity.


These same beneficial effects were observed and documented as successful outcomes of the Global Mentorship Pilot Program, an initiative of the 2014 Global Wellness Summit that took place in Marrakesh, Morocco. The program—‘for Spa Managers by Spa Directors’—was offered at no charge January through June of this year, and engaged the enthusiastic participation of 32 high-potential Mentees and 17 outstanding Mentors from 22 countries. An expanded version of the program is scheduled to commence in January 2016.


Why the need for a global spa mentorship program? According to my co-Chair, Jean-Guy de Gabriac, CEO of Tip Touch International, “Inventories, client databases, and KPI dashboards can be easily managed, but not people! In order to give their very best, aestheticians, therapists, receptionists, fitness/yoga coaches require the inspiration and guidance of skilled managers whom they trust and admire.”


Based on our program committee’s belief that motivation “is a door that can only be opened from the inside”, we designed this virtual mentorship program to be mentee-centric. Mentees were asked in their application form to identify from a list of 17, three areas of leadership competence they believed they most needed to work on. Rather than following some type of “Ask the Expert” format, Mentors in our program were expected to develop a relationship with their Mentee over time, encouraging them to dig deep to find new perspectives and creative options to the real-time challenges they faced.


Mentors in post-session debrief calls uniformly remarked that their mentees experienced an enhanced sense of competence, identity, and effectiveness in a role. The majority also reported that they (themselves) had personally benefitted in ways they hadn’t expected through their volunteer role of ‘paying it forward.’


In an extensive Post-Session Questionnaire, Mentees noted the following changes in their skill-set:


‘Great improvement’

– 74% Leadership & Management

– 67% Priority Setting

– 53% Stress Management

– 53% Decision Making

– 47% Time Management

‘Some Improvement’

– 53% Human Resources

– 53% Operations

– 47% Retail Management

– 47% Financial Management

– 40% Entrepreneurship


A sampling of the ‘most significant” accomplishment mentees realized were—


“In my short time with the new company, I have dealt with a lot of the issues and stress that comes with turnover, building a team and managing other people. My participation the Global Mentorship Pilot Program, with the direction of my mentor, has helped me understand the importance of finding a healthy balance between my personal and professional life.”


“It took this Mentorship Program, me connecting with [my Mentor], and a whole lot of vulnerability to understand that it is incredibly hard to accomplish tasks without having a measurable and specific goal. There are boundaries that need to be established so that you can allow yourself to be successful! I tend to get distracted by possibilities and ideas, and needed to recognize my priorities because they will directly relate to generating the growth and income I need to support my business. I started to track my time and goals—all of it—every day.”


“I needed to learn to say no. If you have worked in hospitality for a while, using the word “no” calls for a lot of dedication. From a time-management standpoint, declining a request in order to attend to what is truly urgent is making the biggest difference in how I operate.”

From the perspective of mentee Manola Perez, Spa Director and owner of the T’ai Spa that has a staff of 21 in Mérida, Yucatán—

“Clients don’t just look at me or my staff as ‘spa workers’. We are regarded and expected to be “Ambassadors of Wellness”! We are also empowering women here. Quite a few staff used to earn their living as domestic workers, now they are spa professionals!”


According to Manola, “Before this program, I was not sure if I was doing all the right things because there was nobody to talk to. My mentor Karin Cofino (Director of Spa and Retail at the Ritz-Carlton/Aruba) provided such great encouragement and guidance to me on how to ‘raise the bar’ of the quality of care and service my guests receive. I realized it was not my responsibility to make employees ‘be happy’.

Mentee Manola Perez, The T’ai Spa


Perez announced last week that based on her experience in the Global Mentorship Program she has the confidence to open a second T’ai Spa in a beautiful colonial-style house she is converting, located in the heart of the Merida. The opening will take place in the Fall of 2016.


“I see how I can change things for the better. Karen asked me to live my dream, not to think about it as a faraway thing. Now I am prepared to do just that.”


For more details about the 2016 program, visit www.mentorshipevidence.com


Deborah Smith

Co-Chair Global Mentorship Program

CEO, Smith Club & Spa Specialists


Deborah Smith is a native New Yorker with a Master’s degree in Business Administration and Bachelor of Arts degree from Tufts University. She has completed graduate coursework at New York University in Education and Leisure Studies.


Ms. Smith began her career in the advertising industry as an account executive for a major Procter & Gamble brand. Her first job in the spa industry 30 years ago was as executive assistant to the Deborah Szekely, owner of the Golden Door and Rancho la Puerta resorts.

Author: Fabiola

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