We all need someone we can turn to in life for guidance. The workplace should be no different, and most forward-thinking companies now actively promote mentoring programs. Where once these might have been reserved for onboarding recruits, now they’re part of a company-wide culture.
There are three key benefits and, unless you’re doing it wrong, no drawbacks. Today we’ll concentrate on those three big positives for the mentee, the mentor and for your business.
1. Benefits for the mentee
Learning from someone whose been there and done it and experienced the highs and the hard-knocks involved in getting there, is invaluable to any member of your staff looking to progress. A mentor will guide them through their role, advising and prompting while assisting with understanding the wider company structure and perhaps introducing the mentee to their network.
This is incredibly helpful for the mentee, who gets reassurance and confidence to press fast-forward in their role and begin getting results. New situations arise constantly, and fresh projects are created. The key takeaway is understanding you can always learn something new, every day, and from anyone. The mentor does not have to be older and apparently wiser. It can be someone younger offering new perspectives on old problems.
It will work, so long as the mentee is willing and the mentor is a good fit. As HR teams, it’s important to put into place a mechanism that matches the right people. Otherwise your mentee may as well go and ask advice from friends in the pub (not that that’s a bad thing, it’s just not necessarily going to meet your business requirements).
The mentee will take on the responsibility for maintaining the mentor relationship, and agreeing with them how often to meet and other parameters. One of the mentor’s chief duties is not to be the driver, but the guide.
2. Payback for the mentor
Good mentors will be rewarded by watching their mentees grow. There’s a particular satisfaction that comes from guiding someone and watching them grow as a result.
Whereas once it might have been a necessary chore to help or ‘train up’ someone else in the business, modern managers see it as an agreeable part of their own personal development; a significant way to hone their leadership skills.
The best mentors will be open to the process being two-way. They can get something back from the mentee. If the mentor is much older, for example, they might pick up some new tricks with social media or other tech trends.
3. Significant gains for your business
As HR people, you’ll want to do all you can to help staff grow for the benefit of the business. Fostering a culture of mentoring pulls people together, bringing fresh perspectives and thinking across departments and age groups that might never have happened otherwise.
Your employees will be happier. There will more openness and honest discussion. There will be fewer instances of stress or anxiety. When before an employee might bottle up their weaknesses, now they’ll be keen to discuss and explore ways of overcoming them. Staff should feel they can approach management or HR to request help from a mentor. It’s not a plea for help, rather an expression of wanting to improve.
All these positives point to one outcome: a more engaged workforce.
And we all know what wonders that can do for your company’s performance: increased productivity, reduced staff turnover, integral succession planning, increased profits. If you haven’t already done so, see about implementing your own workforce mentoring program. You’ll be surprised by how well your teams will embrace it.