Mentoring? Isn’t this just the process of taking a junior employee to lunch, impressing them with my knowledge and skill and then inviting them to call me if they have a question? Perhaps that was the process 10 years ago, but today’s employee plans on being engaged and in charge of their own career path.
Not the same ole’ process
The workforce today understands the power of a good mentoring partnership, but they are also looking for an engaged mentor who will provide them institutional knowledge, hands-on experiences and a glimpse, not just behind the door into “upper-level management meetings” but also in day to day meetings and visits with clients to better understand how strategies are discussed and decisions made.
They don’t need or expect to have a voice in the room, but they appreciate the learning opportunity of being a “fly on the wall”.
This is powerful stuff! It is what connects an employee to an organization and keeps them coming back year after year. Engagement levels soar when an employee truly feels that they are part of the solution and not just occupying a desk.
And, as tenured mentors retire for an organization, the institutional knowledge they pass along to the next generation of employees and managers through the formalized mentor process is invaluable to the sustainability of the organization’s culture.
It’s about the mentee
A great mentoring relationship begins when a prospective mentee is given the opportunity to define the skill sets they would like to improve/enhance or build upon.
Gone are the days where a manager might say, “I know what you need” or “this will be good for you”. If you are interviewing and hiring the right talent, then get out of their way and let them decide what will be most beneficial in their development; this is an important ingredient for great mentoring.
Once the mentee has defined what they require around skill set development, then it’s the employers’ responsibility to find the right mentor to provide the insight that will be beneficial to the mentee.
Mentees should then set at least three goals for themselves while participating in a formalized mentor program; ideally, the goals should be outside their assigned production goals. The formal mentoring process will support the organizations’ production goals by producing a more connected, knowledgeable and engaged employee.
Most mentor programs struggle with a myriad of ways to measure success; the metrics can become so complex that the participants become bogged down in the measurement process and lose their focus on the mentoring relationship.
A few key metrics (the fewer, the better) defined by the organization are all that are needed. And when the formal mentorship process has concluded, how the mentor and mentee feel about the results of the engagement is the true definition of success.
If there are 30 participants in a formal mentor program, there will be 30 ways of defining success.
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