Guest Blog by Katy Tanner, UK Director for Leadership Mentoring at Robert Half
Mentoring in the workplace has moved on from the days of it being used purely as an onboarding tool for new hires. Offering people ways to work happy is vital in the war for talent and mentoring is now a key part of employee engagement and retention.
According to the Robert Half 2019 Salary Guide, skills development is now a crucial component of job satisfaction; more than three in four (76%) employers said their staff wanted to leave if they were unable to provide them with training and development.
However, mentoring programmes must be built upon a solid foundation, it won’t work without buy-in from both senior management and junior employees. With National Mentoring Day on the horizon, here are five tips for achieving success with workplace mentoring schemes.
1. Match mentors and mentees
Some employers make the mistake of having new hires shadow veteran employees in the hope that key information will be naturally transferred. However, this “follow Joe Bloggs” approach is typically unproductive to the onboarding process and certainly doesn’t qualify as a mentoring relationship — particularly if the mentor and mentee are a poor match.
One way to ensure a good fit is to create a questionnaire that asks interested employees about their career objectives, communication styles, and what they are looking for in a mentor or mentee. Then pair them up according to their responses. Successful mentor-mentee relationships are those where the participants have similar interests and personalities, as well as complementary goals.
2. Build strong mentoring programmes
Make mentorship an integral part of your company culture. Promote it during the recruitment process, start matching new hires with mentors during orientation and make sure the pairs have the tools to succeed. This requires planning, internal marketing, training and plenty of follow up. Make sure managers at the highest levels talk up the programme, emphasise its importance and are themselves participants.
3. Establish roles and responsibilities
It’s important that all employees understand that “mentor” is not synonymous with “manager”. Mentors supply advice and guidance; they do not tell mentees how to do their jobs.
Regular contact is crucial, ideally in-person, and it’s important contact meetings aren’t pushed down the list of priorities, particularly during busy times. Some have weekly coffee catch ups, while others do lunch every month or two. For both parties to benefit from mentoring, they must meet consistently.
4. Engage in goal-setting discussions
Companies benefit when team members have clear goals and objectives that help meet the overall business strategy. This is key for employee retention. Mentors should focus their efforts on clarifying their mentees goals and ideas, alongside performance feedback.
- 5. Adapt the strategy for different age groups
Although mentoring has less to do with age and is more about transferring knowledge, by purposefully matching employees of different areas of expertise and generations in the workplace, you help employees diversify their skill sets.
For example, tech-native millennials may be able to teach more senior mentors how to harness the power of social media. However, younger people can also offer other useful insights for managers (known as reverse mentoring). For instance, attitudes towards what people want from their job have drastically changed in recent years. Whereas once the priority was simply earning a competitive salary, today there is a much greater onus on job satisfaction and work-life balance.
By making strong mentoring relationships an integral part of corporate culture, every participant can benefit, which will only strengthen the department and ultimately, the company.