Business mentoring programs are one of the keys to running a successful business. These programs connect a less-experienced employee with more experienced groups or individuals. For promising employees, getting involved in mentoring programs can do nothing but wonders.
Having a mentor can accelerate the learning process through the mentor’s imparting of personal experiences, learnings, and insights on business endeavors. Moreover, mentors can also give valuable advice, provide feedback, give encouragement, and show support – all of which are crucial to an employee’s learning and development.
What is a business mentor?
A business mentor is a more experienced, and usually a more senior, colleague. These hardy veterans are what most of us would refer to as “been-there-done-that” type of people. And it is true – most mentors are successful in their careers and in their fields. They have fought through business hardships and have succeeded.
These vets have been through both good times and bad in the industry. But most importantly, whatever business situation calls – no matter how tough, they’ve gone through it and lived to tell the story.
What does a mentor do in business?
The primary role of a mentor in business is that they give guidance to their less-experienced colleagues. Some of the most important contributions that a business mentor can provide is that they can offer valuable feedback and reassurance. Moreover, a mentor can also provide priceless help to the mentee by providing the latter access to his or her extensive networks and resources.
Business mentoring programs can surely give an employee the much needed help and experience in order to succeed in the company and progress in their career.
With all those descriptions and roles of a business mentor in mind, having them on board can be so advantageous! There are numerous reasons why having a mentor is pivotal; let’s look at two of the significant ones.
Why employees need mentors
An employee who’s looking to progress in their career will definitely need mentors. The biggest benefit of these mentors are that they do this for free (usually volunteers) and that the vets are more than willing to be of help to a younger and less-experienced coworker.
There are different reasons why having a mentor is a vital key to success for an aspiring executive. The most important reason is that, through the help of a mentor, a prospective business leader can jump-start his or her career, because they will be learning from the mentor’s first-hand experiences.
Most importantly, these all-important anecdotes and snippets of wisdom cannot be read in any self-help books or seen in any motivational videos.
Another important reason why it’s necessary to have business mentoring programs is that a high-potential employee is most likely to succeed with a mentor’s guidance. A study on executive coaching done by Stanford in 2013 found that eighty percent of business leaders shared that they have received mentorship in one form or the other.
While it is crucial that any aspiring business leader learn through their own experiences and failures, having a mentor will definitely speed up the learning process.
Having someone with valuable experience as a supporter means that the mentee doesn’t have to go through the disappointment of epic failures, yet still gets to learn the valuable lessons that missing the mark provides through someone else’s experience.
How To Establish Mentoring In The Workplace
Having business mentoring programs in the workplace is highly recommended. These programs not only ensure that an employee will be more motivated regarding their career, but these also are great follow-throughs to an employee’s training, learning, and development.
While formal training can definitely be of much help, it can only help an employee to a certain extent. However, pair it up with an effective mentoring program, then you might have a winning formula for your organization!
For example, pairing up a new hire with veteran employee can be a great activity for the former to see firsthand how the skills learned in new hire training are applicable to real-life work scenarios.
A newly-hired employee isn’t the only one who can benefit from business mentoring programs. These strategies can also be used to train and develop a high-potential employee too.
Take management skills, for example. Aside from formal training, can also be learned through mentoring. Pairing a potential manager with a more experienced and high-performing business leader can help the former get to know more about the nature of work, what competencies need to be developed, and what specific processes must be mastered.
It can also go the other way – pair a manager with a veteran staffer so that the former can better understand the department’s operations and the staff’s working conditions.
Five Steps on How to Start Mentoring Programs at Work
With all the aforementioned benefits of business mentoring programs, it would make sense to implement these strategies in the workplace. Not only is mentoring in business a great complement to your training programs, but it will improve career progression, employee development, and staff motivation.
These, in turn, will ultimately result to better performance, highly skilled employees, and better retention.
With that said, here are five steps on how to start your own programs for mentoring in the workplace:
1. Define the Program’s Objectives and Purpose
First and foremost, mentoring programs in the workplace need an underlying purpose, which will define the overall objectives of the program. Will the program improve employee retention? Will it be utilized to develop leaders or teach a specialized skill? Is the program going to be used to onboard new hires?
Is the mentoring program based on potential or needs of improvement? Is the program based on performance or purely voluntary? When creating a program, make sure that its objectives are well-defined and are well-communicated to those who will be part of it.
2. Determine a Mentor-Mentee Pairing Process
Pairing up employees is the next step to take when setting up a business mentoring program. What makes this step so special is that it takes quite an effort on the organization’s part to find the ideal mentor-mentee pair.
Furthermore, this also poses the biggest challenge to starting a program, as you would need to qualify both mentors and mentees, and define criteria on how the selection process goes.
You can use technology, like an app or an algorithm, to pair up employees. You can also have career advisers coach potentials and help decide on the pair-up from a list of volunteer veterans. You can also have both mentor and mentee fill out forms and base the pairings from that information.
It is important to take note that there is no magic formula for employee mentorship programs. What might work for a certain company might not work for yours; so, always be mindful when adopting processes from other companies. What’s most important is adapting the mentoring process to your organization’s needs.
3. Don’t Forget to Include Formal Training
You can opt for seminars, workshops, or online training to complement your mentoring program. Formal training is integral to its success as it lays the foundation on the competencies that the mentoring program will be built on. Like what was already mentioned, training paired up with mentoring can be effective for the learner.
Formal training too can apply to both mentor and mentee. A mentor also needs to be briefed and trained on the program and its benefits. A mentee, on the other hand, needs to be introduced to the skills that will be observed and developed during the mentoring sessions.
4. Properly Communicate the Program to the Participants
Setting the proper expectations through training and proper communication channels will also help in ensuring that the mentoring program in your company attains its goals. Don’t forget to properly manage expectations as to what a mentee can expect from the program and also what to expect from a business mentor.
The same level of information applies to the mentor, too. Having a clear line of communication of what the program is, its purpose, and how to be part of it will have a big impact on establishing a sustainable program at work.
5. Evaluate the program
This is the step where business mentoring programs come full circle. Like in any other program, success is evaluated through the attainment of its objectives. Programs that aren’t able to generate results or attain objectives will, more often than not, get thrown out the window.
These evaluations can involve measurable individual metrics like KPIs – for example, an increase in sales. These can also be unmeasurable, but observable, employee competencies or behaviors, like an improvement in salesmanship and closing.
Another way of assessing is through organizational results – did the program increase retention or increase internal hiring? These considerations, of course, are determined by your program objectives and purpose as defined by Step #1.
Mentoring Programs Deliver Results
Without a doubt, having business mentoring programs in place will greatly help in the career progression of an employee. Aside from being a great follow-through for any training initiative, mentoring programs also ensure proper employee onboarding, training, and development.
These are just some of the benefits that these strategies can provide your organization.
With that said, we wish you luck in setting up your own program!