Mentoring is an excellent way to enable employees to benefit from the knowledge and expertise of their colleagues. When done correctly, mentoring enables team members to share their experiences, learn about new challenges, and uncover unique ways of getting things done that might never have been tried before. However, not all businesses get mentoring right.
So, what are the golden rules of mentoring? Let’s discover 3 guidelines that your business needs to follow to make mentoring a worthwhile experience for everyone involved.
Define Clear Mentoring Goals
From the very beginning of a mentoring program, it is vital that all parties are privy to what will be involved and how mentoring will work. It can be useful to think of this stage of the process as establishing a contract outlining expectations and boundaries to help avoid any misunderstandings throughout the mentoring relationship. A mentee might have plenty of ambitions and articulate a range of aspirations, which is by no means a bad thing, but it is still important for a mentor to define these goals into achievable targets.
Spend time together breaking down objectives into measurable and manageable achievements that can be completed as a direct consequence of the mentoring program. Aiming to accomplish approximately one goal every 3 months should give mentors and mentees a realistic expectation of progress that can be made. Check in with these goals regularly and do not be afraid to tweak them as you both develop on your mentoring journey.
Match Mentors to Mentees Appropriately
Pairing the right employees is vital if your mentoring program is to be a success. An effective mentor should challenge, motivate and support a mentee, without explicitly telling them what they need to do. When it comes to a modern approach to mentoring, there are now HR software programs such as Together that can make pairing employees easier. By using an algorithm to match mentors and mentees, your business can save time and money that would normally be spent on administrative duties.
The role of a mentor is not necessarily that of a new line manager. Instead, this responsibility should involve asking open questions, listening to feedback, and challenging thought patterns. Encouraging development is all about supporting a mentee’s short-term goals, so a talented mentor must have empathy, awareness and interpersonal skills in abundance. Try not to restrict matches to employees who have mentored in the past or simply have the time and aim to include staff from all levels of the company hierarchy for maximum impact.
Keep It Confidential
In order for mentoring schemes to be a success, the mentee must have total faith in the confidentiality of the process. Building trust and rapport requires a great deal of respect for privacy and dignity. The trust and shared vulnerability involved in a mentoring relationship allows for the discovery of how to approach and achieve real, actionable progress.
As a mentor, employees can often come into contact with sensitive information that must be kept secret. Upcoming projects might be legally protected by patents so it important that mentors take extra care when disclosing information. If there are any situations where maintaining confidentiality would not be possible, for example if there are allegations of harassment within the workplace, then it might be best to consult with an expert or HR for guidance and advice on how to proceed.
One of the most exciting qualities about mentoring programs is that they can be honed and refined through experience. In order to provide true value to a mentee, it is crucial that mentors adapt mentoring sessions appropriately to make the experience worthwhile for everyone involved. Understanding the strengths of your employees is key to running a successful business. For more tips on organizing successful business projects such as mentoring schemes, check out this blog about the importance of planning and effective communication.