Mentorship is a fantastic method to connect a more experienced employee with a less experienced employee. It is an opportunity for knowledge, experience and wisdom to be shared. It also gives the less experienced employee an opportunity to learn from someone who has been on the journey they are about to embark on. No one enters the workforce for the first time with years of experience behind them; at some point in our lives, we are all the new person, nervous about going to work, not wanting to look silly in front of colleagues and seeking guidance from someone who had been there before. Mentorship plays a vital role in an employee’s career development; mentors can provide advice that otherwise could only be learnt from spending years in the workplace. It benefits employers by developing the skills and knowledge of their employees and can help to improve employee retention.
Employee retention is a critical aspect of any business, once an employee has been trained and is contributing to the team, it is in the employers’ best interests to keep the employee in the business. Here is a good article of how atWork Australia can support your business long after the onboarding of your new hire.
What is mentorship?
Mentorship is a relationship between two people, where the mentor provides advice and guidance to their mentee to help them grow, learn and develop professionally. The mentor is generally a senior, more experienced employee who has been paired with a less experienced employee, the mentee. Mentorships are important to both employers and employees. Throughout the process, the employee has an opportunity to develop their skills to progress their career, and the employer benefits by having a highly skilled employee who could progress within the business and be included in succession planning. Mentorships allow the mentee to learn specific knowledge and skills that are highly relevant to their position or industry, thus making them a very valuable employee. Statistics show that employees who have participated in a mentorship program are five times more likely to be promoted over employees who have not engaged in mentor programs. Here is a great article that outlines key statistics and the purpose of mentor programs.
Benefits of mentorship programs for employees
For a motivated individual looking to show their enthusiasm and desire to progress in their career, a mentorship can be very beneficial. To have the opportunity to obtain career advice and guidance from a mentor is invaluable. An employee can receive one-on-one guidance to develop a career plan. With the mentor’s support, the employee can outline their long-term goals, which will help determine suitable short-term goals to work towards achieving their career goals. The mentor will help the employee track their progression towards achieving their goals, provide encouragement, advice, and keep the employee accountable for the actions or tasks they have committed to completing.
Additionally, employees will benefit from:
- Exposure to new ideas and ways of thinking;
- Advice on developing strengths and overcoming weaknesses;
- Guidance on professional development and career advancement;
- Developing new skills and knowledge; and
- Obtaining recognition within the organisation.
Benefits of mentorship programs for employers
Every year, organisations invest money into training and developing for their employees to ensure they have the skills and knowledge to achieve the organisations strategic objectives. Mentorships are a form of training and development, which could potentially be a more cost-effective method of training junior employees. Arguably, mentorships are one of the most relevant forms of training a young employee could receive; learning directly from a colleague with proven experience, knowledge and strategies, that have already contributed to the success of the business.
Some of the additional benefits for employers include:
Providing young enthusiast leaders with the opportunity to be mentored from experienced employees is a great way to show that the organisation values their contributions and the organisation is committed to supporting their career development. This will help build confidence and morale. Employees who feel valued will be more engaged and contribute more to team and organisational goals.
Mentors have the knowledge and experience to upskill younger employees in areas such as team leadership, strategy and execution, as well as building external relationships and partnerships. Employees are matched with mentors specifically to meet their development requirements; this ensures the skills they learn are highly relevant to their current position and will contribute to career progression within the company.
Create Leadership Pathways
Providing emerging leaders, or high achievers, with a mentor early in their career will help build a strong connection with the company, helping to keep the young talent with the business for the long term.
Build strong supportive teams
The employees who are receiving the direct benefits of your workplace mentoring program will be inspired to give back. They will do this by being a more supportive and engaged leader; helping their team members to:
- Set goals and be accountable;
- Overcome any obstacles to success;
- Support each other to achieve as a team; and
- Reach out and ask for assistance when needed.
atWork Australia have many great examples of how employees have been able to thrive in their workplace due to a supportive employer, providing guidance throughout the employment journey. Read atWork Australia’s employer stories here.
How to Launch a Mentorship Program
You don’t have to over complicate the process of starting a mentor program, it could be as simple as asking a more experienced team member to offer guidance or advice to a junior employee. On the other hand, there are more complex processes that can be implemented to create a mentor program, which can be supported by external consultants or mentoring software that can help guide the mentoring process. Here are a few simple steps to get started:
- Define your purpose and goals;
- Design details;
- Attract and onboard participants;
- Pair mentors and mentees;
- Train participants; and
- Measure the success of your program.
Tips for Successful Mentorship Relationships
To maximise the value of the mentoring program, it is important that mentor and mentee are appropriately matched. It is important to remember, this is a professional relationship and both parties need to act accordingly. Given the mentor is generally volunteering their time, the mentee needs to be respectful of the mentor’s time, take initiative to set meetings and come prepared to the meetings with everything they require. The mentor has committed to participate in this relationship, so it is also their responsibility to act professionally, give constructive feedback and even provide ‘tough love’ when it is required. Here are a few simple tips to help develop a strong mentoring relationship:
- Keep an active line of communication;
- Maintain a schedule;
- Share your personal goals;
- Prepare and review before meetings;
- Maintain mutual respect;
- Be flexible in your thinking;
- Serve as a role model; and
- Make time for constructive feedback.
In addition, when developing a strong working relationship, it is beneficial to have a good understanding of the background of the individuals involved. Having a greater understanding of a person’s beliefs, values and cultural differences can help build a strong relationship. atWork Australia offers a free Diversity Webinar Series, which aims to provide education on the benefits of a diverse workforce. Register your interest for the next session and see the range of topics on offer here.
Organisations who are not participating in mentorship programs are missing out on an opportunity to develop their employees and provide valuable career pathways to secure the talent within the business. If your business needs support to attract and retain talented employees, atWork Australia can support you to recruit a diverse workforce.