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How to use a mentorship program to develop your employees

Use peer mentoring strategies and figure out a mentorship style that you can use to develop relationships with mentees and turn them into leaders

As a manager, one of your key responsibilities is to equip employees with the skills they need in order to one day manage or lead themselves. This way, new managers are not forced to learn on the job – which happens very often. And well-mentored employees add value to your business by doing their jobs more thoroughly, efficiently, and quickly.

Developing your employees is a key component of several management styles

Table of contents

1. What is employee mentorship?

1.1. Mentoring vs coaching

2. How do mentorship programs benefit you and your employees?

3. What are some mentorship strategies you can use?

3.1. Set goals

3.2. Find a mentorship style

3.3. Pairing new managers

3.4. Check-in regularly

3.5. Reporting

What is employee mentorship?

Entering into a management or higher-up position is incredibly stressful for most people, and it’s largely because they are not trained to handle the sudden increase in responsibility. That’s where mentorship comes in.

Mentoring employees goes beyond teaching or training. Good peer mentoring involves making sure you are there for employees when they have problems or face challenges, as well as ensuring they’ll be able to resolve those issues themselves next time. A few important things to remember as you prepare to mentor employees are:

  • Mentorship is a process: Mentor-mentee relationships are often long-term, 6 month or more arrangements.
  • Mentorship is directive: Mentoring for managers involves directly sharing your knowledge, experience, and skills with employees, and guiding them through challenges.
  • Mentorship is typically not structured: There are no formal requirements for mentorship, which means that it’s easy for your company to start a mentorship program. On the other hand, it also means mentorship programs can be quite loose.
  • Mentorship is mentee-driven: The topics, projects, skills, and achievements covered by a mentorship program are up to your mentee’s personal development goals

Mentorship isn’t just about hard skills and business expertise. Your employees could get that from skills courses. Training new managers is about making sure your mentees have the organizational and soft skills required to lead effectively just as much as it is ensuring they have knowledge of their field. Effective mentoring is imbued with your organization’s culture and values as well.

A good mentor needs to have:

  • A desire to help others
  • First-hand knowledge of what they are teaching
  • Interpersonal soft skills
  • A willingness to devote long periods of time to mentorship
  • Goal-setting skills
  • Mentoring vs coaching

    Because they are two very popular styles of training, employee coaching and mentoring are often confused for one another. But mentorship and coaching are different. One key difference is that coaching is much more regulated. There are certifications you can earn for employee coaching, and programs that will teach you all about the discipline.

    Coaching is also less directive than mentoring, and is more focused on inspiring self-development. This also means it’s not as long of a process as mentoring can be; coaching sessions can be as short as 10 or 15 minutes. A final difference of coaching vs mentoring is that coaching is performance-driven and focuses on excelling at given tasks.

    A group of mentees working to solve a problem

    How do mentorship programs benefit you and your employees?

    Establishing a mentorship program at your company helps improve employees and perhaps even get them ready to become managers themselves. And since mentoring means teaching employees skills, you’ll also wind up with more efficient workers in the process.

    Mentorship is commonly used to:

    • Give team members direction
    • Teach new skills
    • Pass on your (the mentor’s) life experience
    • Collaborate on problems
    • Motivate team members
    • Help employees navigate organizational politics
    • Provide career advice

    Employers and employees get numerous benefits from well-executed mentoring. The more training your employees receive, the easier your job becomes, since you won’t have so many mistakes to correct or questions to answer. And when employees perform better, your entire team does as well.

    Employees receiving attention in the form of mentoring often feel happier, and that means higher job satisfaction. Employees who are satisfied at work are less likely to leave your business.

    Investing in your team makes them more effective in the moment and in the future. When you mentor an employee, they can take what they’ve learned and teach other team members. This is how peer mentoring starts. Another reason for the lasting impact of mentorship is that mentor-mentee relationships continue for long stretches of time, sometimes even after mentees become managers themselves.

    What are some mentorship strategies you can use?

    An effective mentorship program is developed by following a few steps. These steps address every aspect of employee development so that you can really understand what your prospective mentee needs.

    Two people analyzing graphical data

    Set goals

    The goals you set for your mentee depend on their existing skils and performance, and on how those align with business needs. To decide what your business needs, consider the organization’s vision, and consider how you can merge personal and organizational goals.

    When an employee’s developmental goals align with what the business needs, businesses earn up to 72% more revenue.

    Find a mentorship style

    Just as there are several different management styles and ways to manage a business, there are a few different mentorship styles you can employ. Mentorship styles are typically distinguished by who is doing the mentoring. They are:

    • 1-on-1 mentorship: This is the classic style where a senior employee or manager takes on one individual mentee to teach and guide.
    • Group mentoring: Since it’s not usually the case that there is one mentor available for every employee, group mentoring is a common mentorship style, and is especially useful for building community
    • Peer mentoring: In a situation where employees at similar levels have different skill sets, peer mentoring is a way for them to share those skills amongst one another
    • Reverse mentoring
    • : Reverse mentoring is when the junior employee ends up teaching their senior; this is common when junior employees come from underrepresented backgrounds (POC, LGBTQA+, etc.)

    Pairing new managers

    It’s crucial that you pair mentees with managers that will be a good fit, skill and personality-wise. Some similarities could be their goals, temperament, background, interests, or communication style.,/p>

    Making sure both parties share the same or similar expectations for the mentorship program is also important. Working towards a goal that both parties identify with increases engagement and helps mentees get the most from their training.

    Set meeting agendas

    Mentorship is driven by the employee receiving guidance. It’s your job to make sure their goals are addressed. To that end, it’s a good idea to set regular meetings, to introduce discussion topics and outside sources, and to encourage questions. Getting more specific about the frequency and content of mentorship sessions is crucial to making sure the sessions stay valuable.

    Check-in regularly

    You should assess your mentorship program regularly by checking to see how mentees are progressing. Employee feedback is essential to find out whether your mentoring is helping, and if not, to identify problems you can fix. Some questions to ask include:

    • How is the mentoring relationship developing?
    • Do you feel you are reaching your goals?
    • How has the mentorship program met your expectations?
    • How could the program be improved for you?

    Reporting

    In order to collect reports, define what success looks like for your mentorship program. That way, you can analyze the results against your ideal outcome. And it’s vital to analyze everything, so you can improve mentorship in the future. If you collect mentee feedback and business performance data using a digital checklist, you can automatically turn those insights into graphical reports that let you see the results of your mentorship program.

    Paperless inspection software like Lumiform makes it easy to oversee a mentorship program. You can use a ready-made template to assess key business functions before and after the mentorship began, as well as collect all your data relating to employee feedback and employee skills. Say goodbye to tedious spreadsheets, since you can store all this information in the cloud and not have to worry about organizing your files.

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