by Shannon Herrera, Senior Instructional Designer
We often think about learning as what happens in the classroom, through e-learning, or with tangible just-in-time resources available on the job. However, we don’t always consider the social aspects of learning on the job—particularly mentoring. A good mentoring program can help employees become productive quicker, but more importantly, it can help individuals feel supported and cared for in their jobs. According to research conducted by the Association for Talent Development, mentoring programs can impact things like engagement, retention, growth, relationships, and collaboration. When I look back at my career, official or unofficial mentors were typically the difference between feeling supported in a job or feeling like I was floundering. These mentors are the people who, years later, I still consider my friends.
The biggest role a mentor can play for their mentee is an ear to listen and someone to throw around ideas with. A strong mentor can be key to helping new employees find their place in a company and feel like they have a voice.
Here are some tips to keep in mind while creating a mentoring program:
- Know employees as individuals. Understanding your employees will help you establish a tailored program that works.
- Know your mentors. Not everyone is a natural mentor, but most people can be taught the skills to mentor. Consider implementing a mentoring schedule that has key items to go over, giving your mentors guidelines and goals. In some cases, a “mentor-the-mentor” program may help those who are interested in mentoring but may not have the leadership skills.
- What behaviors are you aiming for? Mentors are supposed to guide mentees but having some set behaviors for mentors to focus on can help them lead mentees to be more successful in their role.
- Respect the relationship. Unlike other relationships at a company, the mentor/mentee relationship should be considered sacred and confidential. Unless there is a significant issue that the mentor feels they must address with management, conversations should be kept private.
“Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living—if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.”
— Denzel Washington