Is your workforce at a standstill on either side of the generational gap, or are they actively building bridges to meet and learn from each other?
Your employees have a lot of skills and experiences to teach one another, but approaching someone to offer or ask for help can be awkward and difficult. You can help create a culture of learning in your organization by starting a mentoring program. Give them a push in the professional development direction.
The results you’ll start to see from this initiative will blow away any reservations that may be holding you back.
What’s In It For Them
Both mentors and mentees will find a multitude of benefits from a mentoring relationship – it’s not only the mentees learning here.
Mentors have the opportunity to bequeath valuable experiential advice to their younger counterparts, and the act of teaching someone can be highly empowering for them. They’ll see how their knowledge can help develop someone else, which often leads to renewed energy in their own work.
Mentors will learn through these sessions how younger employees best interact with management, which helps further develop their leadership and management skills.
Although mentors often have a more extensive professional network, they can still benefit from introductions through their mentees. Since mentoring relationships typically develop a stronger sense of trust than the average professional acquaintance, mentees can receive a huge networking benefit from being introduced to others their mentor trusts.
A mentoring relationship also dispels the need to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. Mentees can learn from the experiences of their mentors and get a grasp on how they need to change behaviors and actions before hitting a wall.
Mentors can also provide the encouragement mentees need to see different perspectives and take a chance on themselves. The growth potential of younger employees is ready and waiting to show itself – all they need is a little validation from those who have been where they are, facing those same decisions.
Benefits for Your Business
The benefits that a workplace mentoring program has for the employees involved directly plays into high value benefits for you, too. As a leader in your business, you know how important it is for new leaders to have a guiding light. They’ll have to make tough decisions on a frequent basis, and without input from someone who’s been there, making the “wrong” choice can cripple their ability to effectively lead.
A mentoring program will exponentially improve how your leaders lead, whether they’re the mentor or mentee. Since business results stem from the top down, this improvement will naturally be followed by benefits like higher employee engagement, productivity, innovation, vision, job satisfaction, and the list goes on.
Starting a mentoring program shows that you’re invested in your people, and studies have proven that those who participate in mentoring programs return that investment with higher loyalty to their employers.
Many people who are thinking about leaving a job could have their frustrations abated simply by having someone who will listen, offer advice based on experience and keep the conversation confidential. Considering the high price of employee turnover, starting a workplace mentoring program can be your golden ticket to drastically lowered turnover costs and increased talent retention.
Where to Start
Start with a vision. What effects do you want your mentoring program to have on the people involved, the company culture and the bottom line? Don’t just have a general idea of improvement – create SMART goals (specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and time-bound) that will frame the groundwork for the program.
When you’re ready to reach out to potential mentors, keep in mind the characteristics that define a good mentor. It may not be the top performers. Look for people who are honest and humble, and willing to learn from their mentees as well. An attitude that they’re doing everyone a favor won’t play out well for a long-term mentoring relationship.
Those who you accept into the program as mentees should exhibit similar qualities as a mentor – humility will be a big one for them. However, if they have a patient and humble mentor, these characteristics could be a prime area for development. Being in the role of a mentee requires taking constructive criticism well and owning up to your inadequacies, missteps, and failures.
To help build up your workplace mentoring program, look for resources that encourage mentors and mentees to make the most of the opportunity.
We recently released a training video series to do exactly that, called “How to Be a Great Mentor or Mentee.” This six-part series of video lessons helps mentors and mentees learn to be active participants in the mentoring process, understand what drives a good partnership, and explain how to make the time spent together as productive as possible.
Watch a preview of “Role of the Mentee” here: