~by Hannah Whittenly~
Formal mentoring programs are showing up in companies across the country. The popularity of mentorship within corporate culture is rising because leaders are seeing the clear benefits that it offers employees, management and organizations. You may think that setting up a program to encourage mentor/mentee relationships within your business sounds too complicated to be worth the investment. However, following just a few best tips to foster a mentoring culture in the workplace can have you easily on your way to seeing the advantages for yourself. Keep reading to learn how your company can benefit from implementing this type of guidance model.
Define Your Goals
Developing a mentoring program for the sake of following the trends isn’t a good idea. You should take an assessment of the issues you’d like to address within your organization and consider the ways in which it could help you. Do you want to pair new employees with experienced ones? Do you want to pair leaders with those on potential future managers? It all depends on what exactly you want to use a mentoring program for. Once you know that, then you’ll know what type of instruction you want to focus on in the mentoring process.
Know the Benefits
There are a ton of benefits that can be seen by companies that include a mentorship program. However, one thing that you should assess is exactly how you want the outcome to be. What part of your business do you want to see the most growth from this initiative of yours? Some mentoring programs have been show to affect the following area of business life:
- Team building
- Organizational learning
- Career development
- Employee satisfaction
- Leadership development
Be sure that your reasons for investing in a mentoring culture are strategic. If you don’t know where you want it to take you and your company, then you may not know where to even start.
Focus on Coaching
Coaching employees can be a far more effective method of leadership than simply managing them. Coaching involves building relationships among co-workers and takes time to integrate into the culture of a company. For this type of culture to be successful, you have to get key players on board. One way to do that is to enroll your management team in corporate coaching workshops. Doing so will help to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that they understand the benefits of incorporating a coaching model in their day to day routine. This could also improve your company’s atmosphere overall, as your leaders will be more positive and better equipped to handle the stressful situations that they work in.
A comprehensive training of mentors and protégés is essential to creating a program that works. Each participant must understand the roles and responsibilities required of them. Mentors should know that their job is to guide their less experienced colleague, not to do things for them. Mentees need to develop goals for their interaction with mentors so that sessions remain focused and have meaning.
First and foremost, program participants must volunteer to take part, as mandatory participation is counterproductive. Assign employees that possess characteristics in line with your program goals as mentors. As mentioned above, you should decide whether chosen protégés will come only from new hires, entry-level employees, or those who might become leaders in the future. Some companies may even use this as an open enrollment opportunity. When you know who is going to participate, match participants by similar personality type and individual goals. Have each sign a mentoring contract that includes expectations, goals, confidentiality requirement and frequency of meetings.
These are the basics of implementing a mentoring culture within your organization. You can tailor your program in ways that best fit your participants, goals and overall company culture.
Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She graduated from the University of California-Sacramento with a degree in Journalism.