Mentoring in the workplace already takes place in the vast majority of companies, but in many of these cases, the mentoring is not happening in the most beneficial way, because more often than not the focus is on informal mentoring. Informal mentorship is when more senior and more experienced employees are giving informal support and advice to more junior and less experienced employees. While this doesn’t sound like a terrible idea (in fact it’s an idea which does come with some benefits) it does cause many problems due to its informal and unstructured basis: senior staff picks out junior staff who “fit their mold”, causing somewhat of an elitist environment, and not promoting any type of diversity. There is also a huge element of luck from the mentee’s perspective – having to be in the right place at the right time in order to receive the “best” opportunities. While there are some success stories with informal mentoring, these often come through stories of personal success through mentoring, and rarely success for all employees or for the company as a whole.
Formal mentoring has structures, boundaries, objectives, KPI’s, and leadership support. The ability to identify the appropriate mentor for a particular mentee is crucial, and that starts with understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the employee being mentored, as well as the objective of the mentorship. Once that is established, the most appropriate mentor or mentors can be identified, and the structure of the mentoring program can start to be defined. To understand in more detail how formal mentorship works, and how to make sure it’s a success, contact us to learn more.
Benefits of Formal Mentoring
The benefits of mentoring are vast, and show how crucial it is that companies have the best mentorship programs in place. The benefits are not just for the mentee either, the mentor themselves can benefit greatly from such programs, and more importantly, the company itself will reap huge rewards that come from getting mentoring right.
- Increased possibility of promotion
- Greater company loyalty
- Increased self-confidence
- Increased job satisfaction
- Better work fulfillment
Clearly, such programs are of enormous benefit to the employees who are being mentored, and the benefits can’t be overstated.
The mentor also benefits from such programs, and studies have shown that stress levels are reduced in employees who mentor other employees, and have a much higher job satisfaction too. This stems from an increase in confidence and a sense of meaningfulness and purpose in the work environment.
The company probably benefits the most from mentoring programs, much of which is the knock-on effect from the benefits we see for mentee and mentor. One of the most important benefits for the company is employee retention. When you have employees who are more engaged in their work, who are loyal to the company by nurturing a strong internal culture, and who have increased satisfaction with their careers, employee retention will always be improved. With rates of employee turnover on the rise, reducing recruiting and training costs that come with improved retention will clearly lead to great financial benefits to a company. When any hiring does need to take place, the culture that has been produced by a solid mentoring approach will be much more appealing to better quality applicants.
As mentioned previously, formal mentoring can also lead to more diversity in the leadership of your company, which in turn can have positive impacts on the way your company approaches innovation as well as increasing performance metrics across the board.
At the core of mentoring is knowledge sharing, and as knowledge is passed around the company, this leads to a much more efficient workforce who can approach tasks and problems as individuals without the need for micromanagement, which will have obvious cost-saving and time-saving implications at all levels of the company.
Examining your mentoring strategy is crucial to the success of your company. If you don’t have formal plans in place but have been relying on informal training, it is important to have the transition between the two be as seamless as possible. Wherever possible, avoid changing an employee’s mentor unless absolutely necessary – often adding a second mentor can be a better solution than forcing the mentee to go through a complete upheaval.
The main goal of developing a mentoring program is to solidify and strengthen the leadership capabilities and professional development of your employees, which will lead to a long and rewarding career. It should be a mutually beneficial relationship where the mentee and mentor embrace the most optimal workplace values that in turn lead to a successful company. The Federal Leadership Institute offers a course on Mentoring in the Workplace which will help you define the roles in a mentoring relationship, offer insights into the strengths of your mentors, teach you the skills that are essential to success in the program, and define how to set up mentoring plans as well as measuring their success. For more information, contact us now.