Businesses who opt to establish a mentoring program for employees are often hoping to see a change in the workplace. Whether that be a more positive and engaged workforce, or simply some extra guidance to help new hires learn the ropes. The good news is that companies who have made the effort to pull together a mentorship program do have some control over the success of the mentor-mentee relationship. How the program has been designed, how it is managed and the guidance given to employees who participate can go a long way to ensuring everyone gets the most out of the mentoring relationship.
Mentor-Mentee Relationship Guidelines
One of the first steps for mentors and mentees is to have clear guidelines about how the relationship will work best. While it is sometimes not clear what is required from each individual there are some basic guidelines that can help move the mentoring relationship forward.
It is acceptable for the mentor to share information about him or herself, including their background, skills, and expertise. This can give the mentor a clear idea about how they can enhance the mentee’s experience in the workplace.
As well, a mentor should actively engage the mentee through listening and goal-setting. Offering constructive feedback is a positive way that a mentor can have a big impact on the mentee. Thus, they should not shy away from giving advice.
Another important element to the mentor-mentee relationship is a connection. A mentor can and should celebrate with the mentee when a goal or accomplishment has been achieved. They can also mark milestones with the mentee, whether it is a work-related event or a personal one, such as a birthday or anniversary.
However, a mentee also needs to have a clear idea of what is expected of them. Thus, mentees need to demonstrate an active interest if they are going to be part of the program. They should keep in regular contact with their mentor and always be on time for any meetings that have been set. While a mentor can help guide the goal development process, it is up to the mentee to define what they want to get out of the relationship.
Mentees should also be prepared to take advantage of any advice or opportunities that the mentor shares. These can be helpful workplace programs to advance skills or external opportunities for training. In the case that a mentee undergoes skill training externally, as advised by a mentor, they should be encouraged to bring their new aptitude into the workplace and teach others.
From a business perspective, one of the best factors of the mentor-mentee relationship is the opportunity to shape a young employee and help them develop productive habits. By educating the mentee on workplace expectations, the mentor has the chance to positively impact not just the relationship, but also the larger organization. Mentees who develop a good work ethic are often a source of positive influence on co-workers. Therefore, the mentor should offer advice on how a mentee can make the most out of their time with the company, which can have a positive and productive impact in the workplace.
Mentor Relationship at Work
Essentially, the mentor’s role is one of teacher and guide. They are responsible for shaping the mentee’s professional development. As such, it is important that they acknowledge the expectation to be a positive role model. By demonstrating to the mentee how to adhere to the corporate policies and requirements, they will help enhance the mentoring relationship. From a management perspective, a mentee who has been well-trained in workplace requirements and expectations is one who is less likely to cost the company down the road. Employees who are aware of company policies and have a history of following them are far more valuable than those who lack this knowledge.
A mentee can find their professional connections and networking opportunities are enhanced through a mentoring connection. This can, in turn, be beneficial to the employer as the mentee may be able to attract new talent to the company. In the same way, a mentor may also be in a better position to access the mentees talents and skills that are not directly related to their current position with the company. Through this, a mentor will be able to see how these capacities could be useful for the company in the future.
Successful Mentoring Relationship
Communication is the key to a healthy mentoring relationship. This means the mentee should express what they hope to gain from the connection and why they would like this individual to be the mentor. What is it they admire about this person? In turn, a mentor should be a source of positive influence and guidance.
A good mentor-mentee relationship will often result in both individuals gaining some extra confidence, which can enhance the positive atmosphere of the workplace. For the mentee, meeting goals, developing company knowledge and expanding their own talents will help them be more assured of their contribution to the company. As well, a mentor can give valuable leadership skills and experience, which will assist them in their future endeavours.
A successful mentoring relationship has been defined as one in where there is engagement, flexibility, authenticity, and reciprocity, according to Harvard’s School of Public Health.
Goals for Mentoring Relationship
While the primary goal will be to help the mentee develop professionally, a secondary goal should be to have a positive impact on the overall workplace. By training a mentee in workplace procedures, policies and expectations, a mentor can help build a more productive organization. Therefore, new hires should always be encouraged to take advantage of any workplace mentoring program.
In addition, for the mentor, the opportunity can help develop leadership skills, enhance coaching, counselling and listening capabilities. In some cases, mentors can also find a mentoring situation to be a learning opportunity. Younger workers may have more experience or other ideas that can profit the workplace, particularly when it comes to incorporating technology to make it a more efficient workplace.