Author: Phil Hartwick
First Published: 2022
Many of today’s professionals spend a lot of time working from home, facing feelings of isolation, and dealing with a wide range of new change related stresses and challenges. For example, we have heard many stories of people changing jobs during lockdown periods and not being able to work in the office or meet their team members face to face for months.
Increasingly we also see workplaces trending towards more self-directed work and self-directed teams, relying less and less on managers making daily decisions or allocating work.
For these reasons mentoring is a core strategy that teams and organisations should invest time and effort into.
Here are three things we suggest you think about:
1. The purpose and goal of the mentor/mentee relationship
First, we think its important to get agreement as to what you mean by mentoring and what you, the mentees and the organisation may want out of it. We have seen mentoring within workplaces ranging from supporting someone to get started in the job to sponsorship of high potential employees. Who will benefit and how? These things need to be clear to all involved.
2. Committed and talented mentors
Second, mentoring is only successful when you have mentors who are committed and who are seen by potential mentees as people they would like to partner with. So it pays to outline with your prospective mentors what they are committing to, the time expectations, what good mentoring looks like, and why they should give of their time. Including mentors and mentees in the matching process is important to their commitment to make the relationship work. Training for mentors, and preparing mentees for the relationship is something we suggest to make it all run smoothly, but we know many mentoring relationships get started without that level of support.
3. Follow up and support
Third, mentoring may start with enthusiasm but can often fizzle without some oversight and support. We suggest one person has the responsibility to oversee the relationships over the time they are expected to run. Periodically checking-in with the mentor and mentee may prevent the relationship from unravelling and uncover confusion about how mentoring is being conducted. Also, as mentors come and go due to movements in the workplace, mentees may need to be rematched. Last, check the progress against the expectations to ensure that the mentoring is achieving what it set out to do.
Mentoring can be a valuable way to support and help develop your people. Like most things though, to launch it and to make sure it carries on successfully requires some investment in time and thinking. You can find more resources and ideas to help you with mentoring here.