How do organizations ensure proper knowledge transfer that occurs spontaneously on the job, often born out of everyday situations and circumstances? Is there a space where seasoned experts and veterans can share their knowledge with newbies? Is there a way to do this consistently and with intention instead of out of happenstance?
Turning experts into mentors for your employees has obvious benefits: the less experienced, “green” workers gain the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their jobs safely and effectively, which in turn provides value to the organization. Mentoring also helps newer or younger employees potentially progress in their careers at a faster pace. But being a mentor is a commitment and a responsibility, and your existing veteran employees may be reluctant to take on the challenge. Luckily, there are training and development programs, utilizing seasoning experts and former employees, that are well poised to take on the mentoring role.
So, how does an organization cultivate an effective relationship between the expert mentor and mentee? Management’s endorsement is key. When management establishes a mentoring program and provides resources and support, mentoring relationships can not only work, but flourish.
Establishing guidelines is a critical step. First, it is important to:
- Identify the Right Mentee for the Mentor
The mentor’s personality should be suited to the person they are mentoring. For example, someone who is loud and assertive might not be a great fit for someone who is quiet and reserved.
The mentor can then use the following guidelines to ensure a productive relationship:
- Establish Roles and Guidelines in the Relationship
An informal mentor/mentee relationship can be effective, but a more structured relationship with defined roles goes a long way toward establishing boundaries, accountability, and respect.
- Gain Alignment on the Desired Outcome of the Mentoring Relationship
What is the ultimate goal of the relationship? Does the mentee need to hone a specific skill set, gain certain competencies quickly or become a leader? Will the relationship promote employee retention and a sense of connection?
- Make a Plan
Clarify the method of mentoring. Will there be formal exercises and demonstrations? If there will be tasks for the mentee to complete, establish the tasks, completion dates, and method of assessment.
- Provide Frequent and Constructive Feedback
This step is crucial for a fruitful relationship. Constructive, regular feedback will let the mentee know where they are progressing and what needs work. This should also be two-way feedback so the mentee has a voice in the process and feels heard..
- Provide Valuable Opportunities to the Mentee
Find training classes that could be useful for the mentee or invite them to join groups or networks that will provide more support and direction in their current job and potential advancement.
- Cut the Cord if it is Not Working
Sometimes, a mentoring relationship just does not work or runs its course. If the mentee is not getting anything out of the relationship, or the mentor can’t connect. It’s time to move on.
Through a mentoring program, the expert employee, who has likely accomplished much over their career, gains a different sense of accomplishment; they impart their wisdom and experience to a fellow team member, leaving a legacy.
Your best resources to develop your employees may not be in management, or even still employed by you. Having the insight to look outside of the building may provide your employees what they need to succeed inside.
For more information about getting the most out of your employees, contact an expert from Becht.