Having the help and support of a reliable and knowledgeable mentor can mean the difference between the success of a new employee and his failure within the organization. Mentoring provides a broad range of benefits for everyone involved, from the mentor to the mentee to the company itself.
Benefits of a Mentoring Program
We tend to focus on what the individual being mentored receives. Sure, he develops a skill and increases his confidence level at task execution, but he also improves his communication skills and learns to receive feedback and constructive criticism. The mentee can expand her network of contacts and maintain a professional relationship, in addition to learning about the current company culture. A mentor program is an effective way of onboarding new employees.
However, mentors themselves also receive benefits from the program, when done right. She has the opportunity to give back to the organization and can experience intrinsic rewards from sharing knowledge, which can increase self-worth. Mentoring improves listening skills and betters one’s ability to give criticism.
For the organization itself, there are numerous benefits as well. Mentoring can assist with talent development goals such as succession planning or leadership development. It also fosters employee retention and aids in onboarding and career development opportunities. Mentoring broadcasts to the employees that management is willing to invest in its employees for the furthering of others and the company as a whole.
Mentoring helps management identify natural leaders and can also reduce training costs as employees help each other gain new experiences and learn new skills or procedures.
Compared with costly and time-consuming training programs, mentoring is a relevant, effective alternative. However, even traditional mentoring programs are being replaced with a new “modern mentoring” option, thanks to the influence of millennials.
Unlike one-on-one mentoring, modern mentoring refers to the practice of relying on collaborative learning groups, virtual relationships, and peer-to-peer connections. Instead of knowledge flowing one way from mentor to mentee, it is more of a circular pattern, enabling individuals to learn from one another about skills, interests, and developmental needs.
Millennials and Modern Mentoring
What do millennials have to do with mentoring? Quite a lot. This generation grew up using social networks and mobile devices to crowdsource information. They shared more than pictures of their lunch, but also how to solve problems and find answers in and out of school. Unlike older generations, millennials seek out a broad array of relationships to support them. They don’t mind speaking with an older coworker, but will just as likely seek out someone younger or their same age for advice in addition to providing a critique and feedback.
In fact, millennials see traditional one-on-one learning as ineffective. They access everyone within their network and realize that one individual could not possibly have all the answers or provide the complete knowledge base that they need to meet their full potential.
In addition to wanting numerous sources of input, millennials also see no end to a mentoring-type relationship. Not only do they want to constantly expand their skills and knowledge, they also want to share what they know with others. It is this aspect of the younger generation that makes it ideal for continuous education opportunities in the work field.
Modern mentoring cuts across generations and status and results in an open flow of company insights among numerous participants – from the new hire to the CEO.
The idea of modern mentoring includes an endless learning process with continuous educational possibilities. It enables training and growth on-the-job without removal of the employee from his role, but rather, daily opportunities to meet physically or virtually to expand one’s understanding of the company and its goals.
Implementing Modern Mentoring
In order to make modern mentoring work successfully, one must consider the following points:
- Keep your work environment easily accessible to all employees. If there are several locations within the company, considering enabling virtual access for the entire work population.
- Don’t let diversity hinder mentoring opportunities. Different perspectives across functions, generations, gender, and race will only improve the development of new ideas.
- Encourage employees to remain flexible and open to shifting easily between the roles of learner and advisor. Allow employees to reach out to whoever they feel is suitable for the knowledge they seek at any time for any learning need.
Having a modern mentoring program in place at your office will help employees put new insights and information into context of their daily work quickly and easily. When perfected, a modern mentoring program will allow everyone to work more effectively and efficiently and lead to a greater success of the organization.