This is part 2 of a 10 part “how to” series covering the points in the infographic below.
“Employees stay when they are mentored, huh? Well I don’t know what that is, how to do it, or how to find time to do it even if I knew what it was!”
Whew. Okay. Let’s take this one step at a time.
First of all, you may already be doing a form of informal mentoring with your employees, although some will say the TRUE mentoring relationship is outside of the boundaries of a leader/employee relationship. Either way, the concepts of mentoring are pretty straightforward, and when applied, can be great tools to help employees learn more about themselves and to grow professionally.
Here is the definition of a mentor: to advise or train someone, especially a younger colleague.
Like I said, you are probably doing that already in some form or fashion. How a traditional mentor/mentee relationship differs from that of a leader/employee is that often the mentor is not the employee’s direct supervisor. They are more of an adviser who helps the mentee/employee develop skills, attitudes and relationships in the workplace.
Again, unlike a leader, a mentor is not supposed to tell an employee (their mentee) what to do. A leader may assign a task or give direction, and the employee is expected to carry out that task. However when a mentor meets with a mentee, it’s more about discussing situations, the mentor listening for developmental clues, then offering advice based on experience. It’s up to the mentee to choose the most appropriate course of action.
A big part of the mentoring relationship is giving the mentee a sounding board, a confidant, a more experienced staff member who can guide them through the employee experience. Many companies have assigned new leaders a mentor to help them develop the necessary leadership skills. Some companies mentor everyone… you have to decide what’s right for you.
Setting up a mentoring program doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds. An important first step would be finding out if you have good mentors in your organization. Even a small company has managers for different areas that can serve as mentors for other areas. The question is, are those people equipped to listen, to guide, and to develop the people they are mentoring? Here is an article about 11 Must Have Qualities for a Mentor.
Even with those qualities, it’s a good idea to specifically outline what a mentor/mentee meeting might look like, what should be covered, and what sort of outcomes you should expect. Ensure that your chosen mentors are on board with your plan, otherwise your results will be disappointing.
Once you have your mentors, it’s time to pair them with a mentee. Not everyone gels, so you really have to take both of their personalities into account. It’s probably good to set the expectation that if either the mentor or mentee don’t think the relationship is working out, they can ask to be re-paired at any time.
And of course, you have to set aside a time to meet. You don’t want to overburden the mentor, but you also don’t want the mentee to think they were forgotten. Depending on the relationship and desired outcome, a 30-60 minute meeting every other week or so is usually a good start.
Before you do ANY of this, though, you’ll really want to think about whether a mentoring program is right for you and who should participate. Maybe you start off small to get your feet wet and see how it goes. Better to start small and build than to bite off more than you can chew and choke.
In essence, a mentoring program can help mentees (employees) develop needed skills while also providing them a way to discuss issues and get valuable feedback. To learn more about some of the other things to consider when setting up a mentoring program, click here.
Next up: Challenged
Thanks for reading!
About the author – After 20+ years in hospitality leadership and human resources, Matt Heller founded Performance Optimist Consulting in 2011 with one simple goal: Help Leaders Lead. Matt now works with attractions large and small and leaders at all levels to help them improve leadership competencies, customer service, employee motivation and teamwork. His book, “The Myth of Employee Burnout” was released in 2013 has become a go-to resource among industry leaders.