Does your business have a mentoring programme? If not, why not? Michael O’ Flynn recaps on the positive impact to business.
Most businesses will have some form of training or coaching in place, whether this is internal or provided by a third party, but mentoring could be much more appropriate in guiding members of staff in the right direction, giving employees the necessary skills and qualities needed to mould them into the perfect worker for the organisation.
Mentoring isn’t intended to replace traditional training methods, but is designed to work with learning programmes to better provide the mentee with the knowledge and skills to reach the objectives set.
Employee mentoring might not be something that you implement in your organisation but it’s a method of informal training that yields real benefits for all parties involved, from the mentee up through the mentor and ultimately enhancing the business as a whole.
So, what exactly are the benefits of mentoring and how will it affect your business?
Unlike traditional training methods where delegates learn the same objectives as everyone else, mentoring offers the chance for participants to work with their mentor, agree what they want to achieve through the programme, and to set targets to work towards, whether this is to improve within work or resolving personal issues.
By applying staff resources into a mentoring scheme you not only help with their professional life but also offer the opportunity for close bonds to develop within the team.
Depending on the level of those involved in the sessions a variety of topics could arise for discussion, by either pre-planning objectives to reach or making them as you go along the mentor must be able to adapt to each individual’s needs. Working with and gaining the trust of colleagues is the only way these goals will be achieved.
Professional and personal development
Mentoring offers both professional and personal development, with the individuals involved maintaining a strong relationship with each other. The mentor and mentee will often have regular informal meetings to discuss work problems, personal issues, and generally catch-up.
As well as the development of the mentee, this process also offers the chance for the mentor to grow alongside; developing new leadership and training skills through the time spent with each individual, subtly altering the style required to bring the best out of them.
Knowledge transferred from senior staff
At the core of the mentoring relationship is a transfer of knowledge, experience and a base relationship to build upon. As a mentor it’s your responsibility to continue this process, passing on your experiences and guidance to junior members of staff, providing an insight into the business and the industry as a whole.
It’s said that 80% of all learning is informal, and mentoring works this way too – you are entering into a professional relationship, but too much formality will hamper the effectiveness of the sessions and result in the experience being a waste of time and resources for all involved.
Greater staff engagement and retention
Staff morale is an ever-present concern for employers, maintaining a happy, motivated team is key to business success. By applying staff resources into a mentoring scheme you not only help with their professional life but also offer the opportunity for close bonds to develop within the team.
With staff morale boosted, employees can work with the knowledge they’re with an organisation that cares for them, reducing staff turnover, saving money from recruitment drives and offering the ability to grow an organic team of skilled workers.
Bring remote workers into the fold
In the digital age more and more people are choosing to work from home or at a remote office, a key aspect of mentoring is the relationships that can bloom from the experience for both the mentor and the mentee. With Skype, Google Hangouts and a variety of other free, online communication tools it’s becoming easier to maintain a mentoring culture, including remote workers.
Mentoring works best face to face, VOIP innovations such as Skype allow remote mentoring but all efforts should be made to bring the mentor and mentee together. Especially in situations where personal issues are to be discussed, being together can help people open up to conversations that may be easy to brush aside when sat miles apart.
As with all aspects of business nothing can be planned with the exact same outcomes, each unique operational structure within every organisation ensures it’s impossible to provide a catch-all guide to mentoring. As a training manager it’s up to you to decide which aspects to bring into play, one to one sessions or group mentoring? How beneficial would a scheduled remote mentoring day be to your employees?
The benefits of mentoring speak for themselves, harbouring a team of like-minded individuals, supported by the mentorship of senior team members leads to a combined upturn in employee spirit and a tangible rise in business affairs.
About the author
Michael O’Flynn is director of Sales & Marketing at the Professional Academy