Mentoring in the workplace is getting quite some buzz, but what is it?

Some people feel it’s a waste of time, and others think it’s nice but not necessary. Some people believe it’s stark, yes/no questions, while others think it’s a way to get the company to pay for lunch. Mentoring is actually a fantastic way to increase employee knowledge, retain the right talent, and build your company from within as leaders emerge from the program.

Why it’s important?

Lack of development is the number one reason people leave the workplace. With a mentorship program, you are actively engaging your employees and grooming them for the future of the organization.

This act of investing in your team promotes company loyalty, productivity, and nurtures brand ambassadors.

In addition, as the mentee continues to learn and grow, their work becomes better and better, and their professional goals tend to align with the company vision, resulting in more people looking out for the business.

Furthermore, as workplace generations shift, it is important to have veterans helping recruits gain vital business knowledge for the company to continue to thrive. Millennials will account for 75% of the workforce in 2025 (that’s only seven more years!) … now is the time to build up the future leaders of the world.

Benefits of Workplace Mentors

Did you know, in a report by Deloitte it was found that 80% of learning takes place in the comfort of mentorship, and is highly beneficial to sharing company knowledge and growing company culture? Using internal resources to build up internal resources sounds like savings and team-building rolled into one. Here are some ways it benefits those involved …

Mentee

It is obvious that the mentee will gain from this relationship by learning from a reliable, more seasoned professional. Especially important for young, entry-level employees, to industry-changing workers, on-the-job training just isn’t enough at times. However, employees at all stages should have a mentor within the organization.

A study by Gartner shows that 72% of employees with a mentor are likely to stay with an organization compared to just 49% of employees without a mentor. Having a mentor also helps reduce on-the-job stress and anxiety, resulting in happier, more productive people.

Mentor

If you’ve benefited from the good fortune of a mentor before, it is highly likely that you will want to offer the same opportunities to others. While mentoring is you helping someone else grow and develop, you learn a lot about yourself in the process. You tend to think more and more about the decisions you make and what you can take away from it to share with your mentee. Seeing their personal and professional development is an incredibly fulfilling bonus! 75% of executives polled from the private sector stated that mentoring actually improved their own careers.

Company

Companies who offer a mentorship program see less turnover, higher margins, and improved job performance. In fact, 77% of companies with mentorships see employees are working more, producing higher quality, and staying with the organization much longer.

Future

With all these statistics, it’s no surprise that mentoring is a huge benefit to the future of the workforce. Connecting experience, passion and skill sets with different skill sets, naive innocence in business, and hunger to learn promotes innovation, and change happens. 71% of Fortune 500 Companies have an active mentoring in place.

How to get started

Start by outlining your program. Get others involved like leaders, or depending on your size, make it a company-wide opportunity to contribute ideas.

The design should center around these core questions:

  • Do you have enough people to create several one-to-one pairings or will you need one mentor to oversee three or four mentees?
  • How will you create mentor matches? Try to pair or group employees with others in the office with whom they have things in common. Look at communication styles, strengths, and outside of work activities that can be used to help break the ice. Similar interests and personalities make for an easy start to a new partnership.
  • Will your mentorship groupings be permanent, with deep roots, or will you have a round robin style program to share wealth and knowledge in a more evenly distributed fashion?
  • Do you want the mentorship to be formal, informal or a hybrid?
    • Formal mentoring sessions will follow a series of questions, lessons, and focuses, while informal meetings will follow no set structure and instead allow current events and seasons dictate the flow.
    • Hybrid may follow the more natural route while incorporating a few mile marker questions for organizational unity.

What’s Your Goal?

Finally, deciding on the purpose of the mentor-mentee relationship is essential to keep everyone on the right track. What does your company hope to achieve through this initiative?

Examples include:

  • Assimilation – integrating new employees with the company and culture.
  • Skills – Mentoring for a specific situation, goal, or focus.
  • Leadership – Senior level partners train their junior counterparts to succeed and grow into their roles.
  • Personal Development – Gaining a more rounded focus on several business aspects and general growth such as managing the work and life conflicts that can cause stagnancy in a career.
  • Mutual – An opportunity for each participant to assume the role of mentor and mentee, promoting mutual respect and understanding.

A few key things to remember:

  • Promote research instead of handing out answers
  • Set goals with and for one another
  • Follow up on tasks, struggles, and goals
  • Be friendly, warm and available
  • Be open, honest and vulnerable
  • Lead by example, admit faults
  • Celebrate each other’s wins
  • Look out for one another
  • Walk away from each meeting with something to smile about

Final Thoughts

One last thing to make your mentoring program a success: measure it. Check in regularly with your mentors and mentees on how they like the program. Ask for feedback, have group discussions, and make tweaks and improvements based on the results.

Choosing to start a program, or venturing out on your own to seek a partner to teach or learn from is one of the best things you can do for your professional career.

It is important to remember that mentoring is not about feeding people information to memorize, but instead sowing seeds of knowledge and best practices, to breed home-grown advocates and leaders of your brand.