The solution to one of the most challenging issues facing small- to mid-sized fluid power distributors today, and the answer to FPDA’s stated vision to strengthen the fluid power distribution industry: Mentorship. Through its careful and deliberate pairing of aspiring future leaders (Mentees) with accomplished managers and executives from other non-competing FPDA member companies (Mentors), the FPDA’s Mentorship program has fostered confidential, mutually-consultative relationships between transitioning generations of fluid power leadership. That’s an impressive sentence, I know, but it’s as important as it sounds.
Surveys consistently show that workforce development is a major challenge for FPDA member companies, who may lack the scale or organizational structure to support formal leadership development programs. A recent analysis of FPDA member companies confirmed that we are, by and large, an association of small distributors. Approximately 60% of FPDA member companies have fewer than 50 employees. Whereas large corporations might have well-developed management training programs or formal mentorships, smaller companies may struggle to devote the time or resources to do so. Even for larger companies with multiple locations, remote branches or operational divisions may be staffed by smaller teams and face similar challenges. Ambitious young fluid power professionals looking to advance their careers have few opportunities available to network with industry peers, and even fewer to engage with leadership of other fluid power distributors.
The FPDA’s Mentorship program is available AT NO CHARGE to employees of FPDA member companies! That’s an incredible membership benefit for a leadership development program tailored to the specific needs of our industry. Participation in a successful mentorship program has been compared by some to be equivalent to earning a MBA for Mentees. It’s no wonder that many member companies have taken action to enroll their up-and-comers in the program.
Mentees currently in the program have overwhelmingly agreed Mentorship has been invaluable in their career development. Some Mentees likened working with their Mentor to having a personal coach or an unbiased advisor. One Mentee commented on how it was beneficial to talk to someone “outside the bubble” of their company. The fact that program Mentors can offer different perspectives on fluid power distribution industry topics like ecommerce, HR issues, freight/logistics or CRM software has been especially useful to some. Mentees say they trust their Mentors and enjoy being able to bounce ideas – even the bad ones – off their Mentor without doing damage to their reputation with their direct supervisor. One Mentee said simply learning how to be more comfortable talking to someone in upper management has been helpful in their career.
The FPDA Mentorship program is poised to expand in 2019 and we’re welcoming both new Mentees and Mentors into the program now! I strongly urge all YES members (Young Executives) to complete a Mentee application (insert link here) and let us connect you with a Mentor. And if you’re a senior-level manager of a member company, contributing your time serving as a Mentor is about the most valuable capital investment you can make into the FPDA organization and the sustainability of the fluid power distribution industry. Applications can be found online at www.fpda.org. Please reach out to Amy Luckado at email@example.com with any questions about becoming a Mentee or Mentor today!
The FPDA is an association of members – and only succeeds as a result of what member companies invest into it! Let’s all commit to building on the success and momentum of the FPDA Mentorship program in 2019!