Why is mentorship important?
Mentoring programs in the workplace leverage existing resources and key personnel to help employees grow and thrive. Mentorship programs are key for employee retention and satisfaction.
In fact, in a survey of millennials by Deloitte, employees who said they plan to stay with their employer for more than five years were twice as likely to have a mentor (68% with, compared to 32% without).
Mentorship programs benefit employers and employees in multiple measurable and visible ways:
- Improved Personal and Career Development
- Improved Onboarding and Productivity
- Leadership Development
- Builds Diversity
- Allows for Reverse Mentoring
- Supports a Learning Culture
- Reduces Costs
1. Improved Personal and Career Development
Mentorship programs allow for employees to take ownership of their own personal and professional development. Rather than feeling stagnant in their roles, employees exercise growth through their relationship with a mentor and have a trustworthy resource with whom to consult for advice. This helps to improve retention and create cost-effective and scalable programs for career development.
2. Improved Onboarding and Productivity
When it comes to starting a new job, employees can feel overwhelmed. However, when they’ve established a mentor-mentee relationship, they have the added benefit and support of knowing who to go to should they run into questions or problems. Furthermore, once employees are trained, the mentorship program can lead to enhanced job satisfaction, which translates into increased productivity and better customer service.
3. Leadership Development
Since mentors are typically employees who have seniority within the company, and more often than not, serve in leadership positions, mentees experience faster progression in their growth. They have the personal attention and guidance by their side. At the same time, the mentor deepens their sense of purpose and strengthens their leadership position within the organization.
4. Builds Diversity
In an effort to level the playing field by sharing opinions, knowledge and ideas, mentorship programs can help improve diversity in leadership. The sole existence of a successful program can serve to better attract, and of course, retain employees from all different backgrounds and walks of life.
5. Allows for Reverse Mentoring
Mentorship isn’t a one-way street. Like all relationships, the communication goes both ways, so mentors can learn from their mentees through knowledge sharing. For example, employees across generations will be paired together, which means that younger generations can teach the older generations about new technology and upcoming trends while the older generations can share best work practices and help inform values. Through these programs, there is a deepened connection between employees and management.
6. Supports a Learning Culture
Through bonds between people that may have never otherwise interacted, mentorship programs help to build intra-organizational personal relationships. They facilitate a collaborative learning environment and knowledge sharing between departments and employees. This translates to more well-rounded employees who can grow their skillset and increase their expertise.
7. Reduces Costs
There is always a cost associated with training new employees, as well as acquiring new talent. Since it’s more expensive to acquire new talent than retain existing employees, mentorship programs can greatly help reduce costs. By establishing mentors and mentees who can rely on one another, the associated stress, anxiety and sick days taken in a workplace may be reduced.
Furthermore, training costs are reduced as mentorship programs leverage existing employees to help new employees get up and running. The synergy created within a mentorship program can be felt organization-wide.
Types of Mentoring
There are various ways to establish a mentorship program, based on preferences. Here’s a look at the different kinds of mentoring:
- Group – One mentor with multiple mentees
- Peer – A mentor paired with a mentee that are on the same level within the organization
- Reverse – A younger employee serves as the mentor and an older employee is the mentee
- Team – One mentee has multiple mentors
- Supervisory – The classic set-up: an older employee serves as a mentor to a younger mentee
How to Build a Successful Mentoring Program
1. Define the Goals
When creating a mentorship program, start by defining the particular need you want to address. For example:
- Knowledge transfer when employees retire
- Boosting retention
- Enhancing customer service
2. Plan the Process
Then, plan how you will get there by determining:
- Your Budget
- Measures of Success
- Measures of Progress
- Skills Gaps to Bridge
- Mentorship Program Structure
3. Get Going
After you’ve established these basics, you can find the mentors, publicize the program internally, offer support to mentors (through guidance, training and rewards), and launch the program by making careful matches between mentors and mentees.
Once the program is up and running, you can gauge success by analyzing metrics, tracking results and requesting feedback from those involved.
Pitfalls to Avoid
Launching a mentorship program poses some challenges and requires consistent work to keep it running smoothly and effectively. Be sure to avoid these common pitfalls:
- One-way mentoring
- Poor selection of mentors
- Poor matching of mentors and mentees
- Lacking a practical approach
- Lacking a referee or someone to measure the process
- Making it look like a quick fix rather than well-thought-out plan
- Using it to replace poor performance
- No participant direction when choosing mentor
- Low mentoring participation
- Limited training for mentors
- Lack of structure for mentoring conversations
Because mentorship programs aren’t a one-size-fits-all approach, it may take several iterations to get it right. Regardless of how long it takes to get the most efficient approach established, you can rest assured that mentorship programs offer employees benefits and satisfaction that is otherwise unachievable.
By creating a synergy between different people across the organization, diversity, satisfaction and retention will improve.