We are in a period of historic change and uncertainty.
... Employees can't shut out the world and ignore the chaos outside.
… Many are considering their career path and whether it’s in alignment with their core values.
… Employers are undergoing significant transformation as they determine the most effective way to operate.
… There are no barriers between work life and home life.
… We are all grappling with the systemic racism that exists within ourselves, our culture, and our organizations.
Companies need to give employees a way to come together to talk, listen, and learn. Mentoring is one useful tool to support both organizations and employees through these historic times. A well-organized mentoring program helps all voices, not just high potentials, be heard. A mentor is an individual who acts as an adviser or coach for a mentee, providing expertise and professional knowledge. According to Harvard Business Review, “the best mentorships are more like the relationship between a parent and adult child than between a boss and employee. They’re characterized by mutual respect, trust, shared values, and good communication.”
Even before the pandemic, only 34% of the U.S. workforce was engaged. In the past, mentoring was about retention and guiding high-potential employees to leadership. Now mentoring is about so much more. It is about support, learning, evolution, and change. There's never been a more critical time to focus on how you are supporting your employees – and the future of your business.
How can your organization leverage mentorship? Here are a few steps to kick off the process:
- Define your goals. Make sure the goals of the program are clear so you can set up the right processes for success. Some examples of goals include:
- Foster diversity and build a path to leadership for underrepresented team members.
- Welcome new hires.
- Provide a community to share stories and experiences.
- Build new skills.
- Support employees through ongoing change and transformation.
- Share your goals with your team. This stage is especially crucial in times of stress and uncertainty. Everyone needs to know the importance of mentoring and the why behind it. Is it to diversify leadership? Is it to enable learning and growth across the organization? Is it to drive innovation?
- Choose the type of mentoring program. There are many ways to implement mentoring, such as 1:1 programs and group mentoring sessions based on a specific topic.
- Choose your mentors. Based on your goals, choose your mentors. Look at leadership and individual contributors. Who has the right skills to support employees based on your goals?
- Choose your mentees. Everyone should have the opportunity to be a mentee, even if it means you need to go beyond 1:1 and invest in group mentoring programs. Now is the time to support each and every employee.
- Manage expectations. Ensure both the mentors and mentees are aware of the program's expectations and their role. Include guidelines for content areas to cover and good questions to ask.
- Evaluate performance. After the mentorship program has been running for a few months, gather feedback to see if your goals are being met and evaluate improvements.
Mentoring allows us to connect with our colleagues and expand our knowledge. When we come together to listen, learn, share, and grow, we can create meaningful relationships that can impact our work, our lives, and the broader community.
About the AuthorMore Content by Lynne Levy