One of the most effective ways to attract, retain, and develop high performers in your organization is to connect experienced leaders with emerging talent (especially in the midst of the current talent shortage).
Here are some key points to remember about mentoring as you move forward:
1. Mentoring isn’t for everyone (and shouldn’t be made mandatory)
In addition to having knowledge and experience in their field, good mentors must be willing to devote a significant amount of time and energy to their mentees. (This desire or availability is not shared by everyone!) Remember that effective mentors have qualities such as tact, empathy, patience, a service-oriented mindset, and the ability to listen well.
2. Mentors and mentees both benefit from the relationship
While mentors are often thought of as knowledge “givers,” seasoned mentors say they learn just as much as they teach — through introspection, seeking out cutting-edge information to share, and from their mentees. Because they know the mentee is watching, they are pushed to always do, act, and achieve their best.
Mentoring relationships are frequently lifelong. They aren’t just for business; they can also be extremely rewarding on a personal level.
3. A good mentor helps a person grow as a whole person, not just as an employee
We assess and coach mentees on the “Eight Great Social Tells,” which include attitude, energy, appearance, language command, engagement, conversational bearing, demeanor, and body language.
To be successful, mentees must make a positive impression on others in all eight of these areas. One or more of these social characteristics is frequently in need of reinforcement, and this is an obvious place to begin the mentoring process.
4. Good mentors are always on the lookout for new information
They “know what they don’t know” and consider their own education and personal growth to be ongoing projects. They consume a diverse range of books, articles, podcasts, websites, videos, and other media on a regular basis. (This reading and the listening list are also invaluable when giving mentees self-development advice! (For more information, see the next point.)
5. Mentees are not allowed to be passive
“You can’t expect others to invest time in your development if you aren’t willing to do so yourself,” we tell new mentees. We ask them to first create a self-development plan that includes a candid assessment of their strengths and weaknesses, a well-thought-out plan for self-improvement (including a reading list, educational classes, skill development, and so on), and a “personal reality check” on what they need, want and hope to avoid in the future.
6. “Jumping in” is ineffective
The first task of a mentor is to get to know the mentee, not to start giving advice and imparting wisdom. This entails taking the time to learn about their strengths, weaknesses, goals, background, personality, and other relevant information. When mentors and mentees are properly sized up, it ensures that 1) the mentor and mentee are a good match, 2) the mentor understands the mentee’s motivation, and 3) the mentor is prepared to meet the mentee’s needs.
7. A “to-do” list can help mentees stay on track
Mentors who are effective don’t take a “one-day-at-a-time” approach; instead, they start where the need is and gradually expand from there. Mentors should create a “Learn List” that outlines what mentees need to learn right away, in the next month, and in the next year. Deportment and projection, education, inspiration, motivation, technical knowledge, and contacts/networking are all examples of this.
8. A mentor does not always have to be a senior person
“Reverse mentoring” is becoming increasingly popular, and with good reason. A powerful tool for keeping established leaders up to date on current tools and technologies is to ask a junior person to mentor a more senior one. It can also help to bridge generational divides, dispel stereotypes, and increase the retention of younger workers.
9. It’s critical to pick the right “champion” for your mentoring program
The program will be designed, launched, and run by a mentoring champion. They’ll set objectives, find and train mentors and mentees, and monitor progress. This should ideally be their primary focus, as adding such a large task to an already overburdened schedule could be overwhelming.
A champion should be a confident, tenacious, accountable, and opportunity-focused connector. Take your time and make your decision carefully. This will be the deciding factor in whether you succeed or fail.
10. From the beginning, senior leaders should be on board
The C-and suite’s other major stakeholders’ buy-in, approval, and support are essential for long-term success. You’ll need to create a compelling business case for why the program is necessary: to improve performance, attract job seekers, and retain top performers, for example. These goals should be in line with the organization’s strategic objectives. If the mentoring program is to remain a priority, it must be able to demonstrate ROI over time.
11. Measuring is important
While mentoring has numerous intangible benefits, it’s critical to set goals and track metrics in order to assess the program’s contribution to business success. For example, you could compare numbers over time to see if employee retention has improved by 10% since last year, or you could set a goal of reaching 70% employee satisfaction with career advancement.
You won’t be able to tell if your program is working or what needs to be changed without this information.
12. Your mentoring program’s success can be boosted by branding
Give it a name, a logo, a design, and a color scheme. These should be used on business cards, websites, brochures, videos, and recruitment, training, and promotional materials, among other things. Easy-to-recognize branding can help to emphasize key messages, attract potential employees, and generate enthusiasm for the program.
13. Both mentors and mentees should be aware of what to expect
It’s important to have a good structure. If the parameters of a mentoring relationship are, “We’ll chat over coffee whenever you need to,” it won’t be very effective. Both mentors and mentees should be aware of the length of the mentorship (we recommend a renewable 12-month period), the frequency of meetings, the goals, and the fact that there will be work involved. Consider having both parties sign a contract stating that the mentoring program will be a priority for them and that they will honor their commitments to it and to each other.
14. Choosing mentors and mentees carefully can make all the difference
It’s especially critical that mentee needs align with mentor resources, and that the two share common interests, resulting in a personal bond. We also recommend aiming for a 10-to-20-year “experience gap.” The mentor has a lot of experience at this point, but they still remember what it’s like to be in their mentee’s shoes.
15. Effective mentoring can also take place virtually
Face-to-face mentoring isn’t always possible or practical in today’s connected global economy (let alone in the aftermath of COVID-19). Remote mentoring is a versatile and effective option that allows people in different locations to connect via phone calls, video chats, text messaging, and other means. Virtual mentoring has several advantages, including a larger pool of mentors, increased convenience for busy participants, and a significant boost in morale for remote workers.