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Mentoring in the workplace

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Matt Darvill Work, Work Life

Mentoring is an essential tool to help integrate new workers into the company. By assigning a new hire with an experienced member of staff, you can streamline the onboarding process, and really help new members of staff settle in. However, mentoring programs can be really beneficial for existing staff, and the business as a whole. They can help to generate ideas, encourage goal setting and create an open culture throughout the company.

Match mentors and mentees

For both parties to get the most out of the mentoring arrangement, it’s important to try and match personality and styles. Many companies will simply pair a new hire with a veteran employee in the hope that all the necessary skills and expertise will transfer over. However, this creates a ‘boss versus employee’ dynamic and becomes quite a formal exercise. The purpose of a mentoring program is to not only develop skills for a role, but to also shape employees closer to the company culture and the softer skills that are integral to this.

Some companies use a survey to try and better match employees for this exercise, establishing a personality fit, rather than purely using experience as the barometer.

Goal Setting

All companies benefit when employees have clear goals that help meet business objectives. Over 90% of employees feel that goal setting is important to their performance at work, yet many employees never have this conversation with their manager. Mentors can help in this regard by partnering with their mentee on projects, and offering feedback on performance.

What skills are needed?

The best mentors are not only skilled in their roles in the company, but they also have excellent people skills, and are committed to nurturing the next generation of leaders in the business. Mentors should have open and frank conversations with the people they are mentoring, ensuring that there is no judgement or reaction, as the process requires time and understanding. On top of this, the experience and know-how of the mentor gives them a position to suggest improvements and allow the mentee to utilise practical experience to resolve issues.

What are the benefits?

The benefits go far beyond welcoming new staff members, being a member can provide extra motivation and inspiration to existing staff. There is increased job satisfaction, and development of leadership skills for those who are established at the company. There are many mutual benefits to the organisation, including increased teamwork and stronger networking within the business. Primarily, the process increases ‘knowledge flow’ from those that have it, to those that need it. The ‘tacit knowledge’ of an experienced member of staff is difficult to write down in a guide. It is assumed with practice and familiarity. Mentoring can offer a route to tapping into this resource, ensuring that essential information is being shared throughout the company.

Have you had experience with a mentor program in the past? How did you find the process and what were the benefits you found? Let us know in the comments!