Customize mentorships for relationships that grow careers, create bonds, and change lives.
Mentors are key to helping new employees get comfortable in their new role, and they also can help veteran workers gain new management and communication skills. However, mentorships aren’t one-size-fits-all propositions. Follow a few steps to ensure customized, focused mentorships that work for everyone involved.
Chemistry counts. There is a real chemistry between mentor and mentee in a successful relationship. While you should connect people based on common grounds—such bringing together as a nursing assistant with aspirations to be an LPN with a nurse who started out as a CNA. However, it’s important to give both parties a say in the relationship and let them find the right partner. Make sure they understand what’s involved in the mentorship, what they will be responsible for, and what they should expect to accomplish over time.
Think beyond competencies. While job skills/competencies are part of the mentorship, the mentor should also focus on personal skills—character, values, self-awareness, and empathy—as well. Particularly when the job involves computer use, it is important to help mentees learn to balance high-tech and high-touch.
Accentuate the positive. If mentees express unrealistic ambitious or seemingly wild ideas, the mentor should avoid knee-jerk reactions. Instead, he or she should spend some time—up to a day—thinking about the idea and how it might work before dismissing or criticizing it. If possible, the mentor should be encouraged to come up with a compromise or win-win alternative.
Stress mentor loyalty. The best mentors understand the noble purpose of their role and the importance of modeling commitment to colleagues. Encourage mentors to uncover their mentees’ passions as well as their strengths. A successful mentorship doesn’t just help employees be successful at a particular job; it helps people find their calling, and it gives them the support to pursue it. Of course, this means that if the mentor determines an employee isn’t a good fit for the job, he or she should work with HR, whenever possible, to help identify a better job match for the worker within the organization.
Mentorships create strong bonds between employees, their colleagues, and the organization. At the same time, having a good mentorship program is an important factor to improving employee engagement among millennials. In fact, millennials who stay with you for more than five years are twice as likely to have had a mentor (68%) than not (32%).