Mentorship programs offer benefits for individual employee—including improved skills, confidence and leadership abilities. But they also benefit your entire organization. How? By creating a culture of communication, building strong working relationships, and developing strong performers.
Here’s everything you need to know as a manager about employee mentoring programs, including how to create an effective program and the benefits of doing so.
How to build a strong mentoring program
1. Keep mentors and supervisors separate
To have a strong mentoring program, it’s important not to equate “mentor” with “supervisor.” A mentor should purely provide guidance, while a supervisor should give out tasks pertaining to their job. This allows for more open conversations since the employee doesn’t need to feel as if they need to speak in a certain way to impress their supervisor.
2. Ensure regular communication
Once a mentor and mentee are paired, it’s important to stay in regular contact. While mentors and mentees can check up with each other via email, in-person meetings (or video calls, in this remote era) are imperative to creating a meaningful mentor-mentee relationship. These more personal forms of communication allow both parties to communicate in more depth. This can be done by scheduling a weekly coffee meet-up or lunch every month.
3. Establish meaningful goals
An effective mentoring program needs structure. Setting goals is one surefire way to achieve this. Goals not only help you track progress, they keep both parties accountable. While a vague goal like “I want to be more productive” is far from compelling, a goal such as “to increase sales by 10% in the next 30 days,” is much more motivating—and of course easier to assess.
Benefits of mentorship programs
1. Improved skill development
Mentorship programs allow employees to develop both their personal and professional goals. The skill set they gain can set them up for growth within your company, and prepare them to take on leadership roles—and give them more energy and excitement to do so.
2. Improved employee engagement
When employees know they matter, absenteeism decreases and productivity increases. Being part of a meaningful employee mentoring program makes it clear that employees are valued. Their newly improved skill set will help them perform better in their current role, and again, set them up to succeed in future roles.
3. Mentors gain skills as well
The most effective employee mentoring programs enhance both mentees and mentors. From listening to an employee’s perspective, leaders can gain empathy as well as practical information; e.g., what is and is not working within the organization. They can also learn where employees need more support and, as a result, make changes that improve the company culture.
How strong is your employee mentoring program?
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