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The Power of Mentorship
By Traci Scherck, MPA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Every business problem is a people problem. Let’s think about that for a minute.

Do you have new employees or employees that are unsure of their roles and the outcomes they are asked to create?

Do they have to feel this way?

No! It is always a choice.  

How can we change this? By creating the container for our staff to be fulfilled and one way is by creating mentoring programs.

Mentorship is that trusted counselor providing guidance and support on a range of professional issues and may include career progression. A mentor can be working with someone who is pretty far in their career that is looking to up-level or it can be a new hire buddy/ mentor program and can include apprenticeships.

According to a McKinsey Article, as businesses emerge from the pandemic, more than 80% of them face critical gaps in the skills needed to build resilience amid ongoing uncertainty.  How do we change these numbers?

There are four key steps to creating mentoring programs in your organization.
  1. Create clear organizational expectations for both learning and teaching – What are the organization’s expectations for every individual at every level of the organization?
  2. Build mentorship (leadership or apprenticeship) skills in every employee – This brings others into the conversation so that we can learn about those things together.
  3. Identify the skills that individuals need to build – What do they need?
    1. Do we have them in the right role?
    2. Do we have them on the right team that is aligned with the strategy? Thus, allowing collaboration on the team – my strengths are someone else’s weaknesses and vice versa.
  4. Be broad and inclusive about who can be involved in these programs
    1. New hires
    2. Individuals who have not been in a management role before but have the aptitude for it
When we have the right processes in place, our employees can thrive in their positions. Yet, what if our employees are not exceeding in their positions? We need to look ensure that we are putting the right solution in place for what the problem is. For example, if we are seeing an issue with retention in the first 90 days of employment, then we need to look at a different type of mentoring program. Such as an orientation program, onboarding, or new hire buddy program versus a high potential mentoring program.

What is a high-potential mentoring program? This is where we take a look at the individuals inside your organization who display the motivation, ability, and organizational commitment to rise and succeed in senior positions. High-potential employees:
  • Deliver strong results
  • Credibility
  • Master new types of expertise
  • Recognize that behavior counts
  • Self-aware
  • Have the “X Factor” or drive to excel (this is sometimes referred to as having lightning in a bottle)

According to a Torch Article, research shows that high-potential employees work 21% harder than their peers and also bring 91% more value to the organization than non-high-potential employees. Therefore, we need to ensure that we retain these employees, and one effective way is to offer mentoring programs.

One distinction that should be made is that there is a difference between high-potential and high-performance. Just because an employee has the potential does not mean that they are going to perform.

Creating mentoring programs in organizations has been shown to increase productivity and role proficiency. According to a Torch Article, 84% of leaders who received mentoring reported becoming proficient in their roles faster and leadership coaching that includes goal setting and feedback has been shown to increase productivity by up to 88%.

Here are some of the ways that mentoring programs impact organizations:
  1. Improved role proficiency – whether it is guiding employees through obstacles based on personal experience or identifying areas of weakness to develop, these relationships help the employee become more skilled.
  2. Better job satisfaction – employees at companies with strong mentoring programs and a culture that support them tend to be significantly more engaged.
  3. Higher confidence levels – 92% of mentees report improved confidence in handling challenges and increased skills for the job (Torch).
  4. More growth opportunities – research has shown that a lack of development opportunities is a common reason behind an employee’s decision to leave a company.
Now it is time to decide what your program will look like, is it the right solution for your situation? What are the results that we want to get from this program? Does the program align with the business strategy and key business results?

Clear communication when creating your mentoring program is critical.
  1. Ensure that you are specifically naming what the results of the program are and how they relate to the business strategy
  2. Ensure that it is the right solution
  3. Let everyone know why you are creating the program
  4. Be specific on how the program is going to be set up
  5. Ensure that you have feedback mechanisms in place and ensure that you are hitting those targets

Feedback mechanisms are an extremely important part of creating your program. There are several different aspects to look at regarding feedback. Three of the most important are:
  1. Feedback from the employee/ mentee – survey the employee at the beginning of the program, the middle of the program, and at the end of the program.
  2. Feedback from the mentor – how are they on day 1, the middle of the program, and at the end of the program?
  3. Was the person promoted, etc.

Once we have created our mentor program, we then need to ensure that we are providing clarity and training to the mentors. As a manager when you are providing clarity you are communicating with your team members in the way they need to be communicated with so that they have everything they need to be successful.
The last part of creating your mentoring program is to determine how you will match your mentors and mentees. Some of the most common ways are:
  1. The employee self-selects their mentor
  2. The program administrator selects the matches
  3. Matching surveys and algorithms that do the matching for you

Creating mentoring programs in your organization is an investment in your employee’s success, helps employees to fulfill their full potential, and increases the chances that they will stay with your organization. Check out our podcast on this topic here.
 
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